The Pun is Mightier than the Fjord: The Musings of a Punster
Puns are great fun and so hard to write. So I started collecting them a long time ago. This particular compilation was shepherded into existence by a friend of mine whose name I cannot recall. Nor do I remember who contributed which ones to the many categories we developed. Somewhere along the way I also collected Shaggy Dog stories, which are a cousin to the lowly pun. Whereas puns play with the familiarity of words and ideas and distort them in fun ways to come up with little stories, Shaggy Dogs (I don’t know why I consider this a proper noun but I always have) on the other hand play with the syllables and re-order them in equally fun ways. When I can remember a good one I will provide it here. Until then, you’ll have to settle for these 38 puns.
A Digestive Tract
Advances in medicine come from a variety of surprising sources. Many of us know tat the tropical rain forests of South and Central America contain plants that have yielded remarkable drugs and medicines. Some of these medicines have come from unlikely and surprising sources.
A famous clinic in Brazil specialized in treating disorders of the digestive system, particularly constipation problem. People from all over the world with constipation problems eventually found their way to this famous clinic in Rio to be treated with an amazing new drug that eased constipation woes. Incredibly, this drug did not come from any rare or exotic plants, roots, or flowers. Rather, this miracle drug was simply derived from the leaves of local palm trees which grew in abundance throughout Brazil and much of the tropics.
One man, who had been plagued with digestive and constipation problems his entire life, had taken every known drug and medicine designed to cure this problem. He finally discovered this wonderful clinic and its equally wonderful treatment through the application of palm leaves. Upon completing his successful treatment, he was heard to exclaim, “With frons like these, who need enemas.”
Tinkering Around with Chinese Cooking
Economically, conditions have been very difficult throughout the world, but in few places have conditions been as tough as in England. We have become familiar with once-wealthy nobles and members of the peerage who have resorted to conducting tourists through their ancestral homes and palaces just to earn a few pounds. Even members of the House of Lords have been trying to discover new sources of income. One member of the House of Lords had difficulty making ends meet, and he had to resign his seat in the House of Lords and spend his time making a legitimate living. What made it more difficult for him was that this esteemed member of the upper crust was a dwarf, and that made job searching a much more difficult task.
Jobs were difficult to get, and as former wealthy man, this former lord was not used to actually working hard, and he lost a number of positions. Finally, this dwarf was reduced to selling pots, pans and other cooking utensils. He began to specialize in Chinese cookware, but business became so bad that he was selling his Chinese cookware for next to nothing.
One day, desperate for some cash, this midget found a tough customer who wanted one of his Chinese cooking pots. The pot the customer desired was an oversized, lengthy pot, and he eventually got the small lord to sell it to him extremely cheaply. Delighted with his purchase, the buyer returned home and showed the pot to his wife. She asked him where he had managed to procure such a huge cooking utensil so cheaply. He proudly replied, “I took a long wok off a short peer.”
A Loophole in the Justice System
We are all familiar with the present judicial system in the United States and the problems inherent in that system. Courts are overcrowded, cases have become hopelessly backlogged, and prisoners often remain in local, holding cells until they can stand trial or be assigned to appropriate prisons. Prisoners occasionally have to wait forever as they are held over for trail. One enterprising judge, however, decided that “justice delayed is justice denied,” and he came up with a plan to eliminate the snarled criminal justice systems.
He was tired of crowed court calendars and delays, tired of criminals being released because there was just not time on the crowded dockets for trials and eventual imprisonment. He took matters into his own hands but, unfortunately, a bit too sternly. He decided that instead of having prisoners wallowing in jail waiting for trials that seemed never to come up, and to prevent prisoners from going free before their sentencing, he would dig a huge pit behind his courthouse, and any felon whose trial was scheduled at some distant future date would be kept in that huge hole. Much time was saved as a result of this harsh system, where abyss was as good as a trial.
I Cannot Tell a Lie
Many historians are unaware of a little-known aspect of American history involving George Washington. The Father of our Country became an almost apocryphal figure, and people know a lot of the stories and myths surrounding George Washington. We remember the story of his supposedly throwing a silver dollar across the Potomac River. We remember other stories about young George’s penchant for always telling the truth. But few people of even historians know the story of another incident in George’s youth that helped cement his reputation for honesty.
Georges’ father was more than a planter in Colonial Virginia. He was also a collector of colonial artifacts. He was famous for his collection of wooden Indians. In fact, his collection was famous in the colonies. Young George, intent on sharpening his skills with the hatchet, went into the large room where his father kept his collection of valuable, hand-carved Indian figures and proceeded to cut them to pieces.
When George’s father saw the damage that George had hewn with his axe, he confronted him.
“George,” he asked, “are you responsible for this?”
“I cannot tell a lie, father” he answered. “I cut down your Cherokees.”
French Femme Fatale
One of the most famous philosophers in history was Rene Descartes. Many of his principles are well known to all students of math and philosophy. Remember the Cartesian graphs we labored over in high school algebra and geometry. Descartes was also famous for his philosophical musings, such as “I think, therefore I am.” One story suggests that he was once asked his opinion on a question and he replied, “I don’t think so.” He promptly disappeared, but that is not the story we are telling today.
Rene Descartes and his wife were, on the surface, a happy couple, but Madame Descartes had a secret. She was a bi-sexual and Rene was not able to satisfy her completely, she would often wander out during the evening and partake of the pleasures of the Parisian prostitutes. This was, she thought, a harmless pleasure, and she saw no reason to disturb or worry her husband about her occasional trysts with the pleasurable prostitutes of Paris. As we all know, such a secret life cannot remain secret for long. Rene discovered his wife’s infidelity, and he confronted her. He issued an ultimatum: “Either you give up your liaisons with these women, or our marriage is over and I’m leaving.” Madame Descartes saw that her life with Rene was much too important and fulfilling to sacrifice for her occasional pleasures and she agreed to forsake her indiscretions. She decided that, in the interests of family harmony, to put Descartes before the whores.
Cats as Cats Can
Young Marie was excited. She was going to visit her cousin Madeline in France. She was going to stay an entire summer, and she was excited about meeting Madeline and visiting France. But she was most excited about learning French.
When she arrived, she was even more thrilled because Madeline’s cat had just had kittens, and Madeline gave Marie three of them to raise as her very own. Because Marie was beginning to learn French, she named her three new kittens Une, Deux, and Trois.
Marie played constantly with them, and took them everywhere she went. One day, Marie and Madeline were playing beside the Seine River. Marie put her three kittens in a small, toy boat and pulled them along the water. Unfortunately, a large boat sped by, and the wake tipped Marie’s toy boat and the kittens spilled overboard.
Seeing Marie in tears, Madeline rushed up and asked what had happened. Marie replied, very sadly, “Une, Deux, Trois cats sank.”
Leave it to the usually stolid, staid Norwegians to concoct the most effective military defense of their country. Before the German occupation of World War II, many Norwegians were convinced that their country’s unique geography would protect them from invasion by the Germans. After that, they had thousands of miles of coast, consisting predominantly of their ocean inlets and bays. Surely, they felt, the Germans would not be able to mount an offensive against these natural defenses. There was just too much coastline and land to occupy.
They were wrong. The German navy was more than a match of the weak Norwegian defenses, and they bays and inlets and waterways were soon swarming with German military might. The Norwegian government met to discuss a more effective defense. The Norwegian military strategists hi upon the idea that if they could distract the Germans when their ships entered Norway’s waters, the Germans would not be able to concentrate on their military tasks, and the country could be defended and perhaps not occupied. They discussed lots of options that might distract the Germans, and they finally decided that if they created huge signs and billboards along the coast and these signs were filled with jokes, riddles, limericks and puns, the Germans would not be able to concentrate on invading; they would be concentrating on solving the riddles, laughing gat the jokes, and trying to figure out the plays on words.
The Norwegians were absolutely correct. The German naval commanders saw the jokes and riddles, couldn’t stop laughing, and left themselves open to the Norwegian defenses. Norway’s famous coastline of inlets and bays couldn’t’ keep the Germans out, bu the jokes and riddles did. This was undoubtedly a case of the pun being mightier than the fjord.
New and modern interpretations of classic plays have become more and more common. Less common are modernized versions of classic operas, but the New York Metropolitan Opera decided that even its staid traditions needed a bit spoofing up, and so the Met decided to mount a production of Mozart’s “Don Giovanni.” Before the opening curtain, the crowd was buzzing with excitement. Would this new interpretation enhance the timelessness of Mozart or tarnish that stellar reputation? Particularly different in the new interpretation was the role of Leporello, the Don’s servant. Rather than the traditional humorous role, he would be portrayed as a surly, scowling, disapproving lantern-bearer.
Among the distinguished guests at the Met on this distinguished night were many famous musicians and performers, including tenor Jussi Bjoerling and pianist Jose Iturbi. They were seated in a private box with several other guests. One of these guests, knowing of the great Bjoerling’s aversion to no-traditional performance, whispered to Iturbi: “Jose, can Jussi bide the Don’s surly light?”
Down near El Paso, right on the border between Mexico and the United States, a retired prison warden decided to raise pigs. Pork, as we all know, is now a meat of choice, low in fat and low in cholesterol, and this enterprising farmer felt he could earn some supplemental income to go with his retired warden’s salary. Unfortunately, he had seen so much violence in his career, that when it came time to slaughter the animals for market, he couldn’t bring himself to kill them. Soon he was left with hundreds of pigs, and the females were continuing to breed like mad. Something had to be done.
His assistant had fewer compunctions about killing the swine, and this assistant had a gift. He was brilliant, talented orator. It was said he could, just by talking and using his wonderful vocabulary, charm the animals into obeying his instructions. The farmer couldn’t’ bear to physically kill his animals, but he and his assistant came up with a plan. The assistant would talk to the animals, charm them with his wonderful way with words, and get them to walk into a nearby pond and they would drown. The results would be a quiet death for the animals—no fuss, no mess.
The plan worked. The assistant to the ex-warden, no farmer, would begin to speak, filling the air with his exquisite words, and the pigs would walk into the pond. Since they had too many females, they started with them. Sure enough, as the dulcet tones of his voice and the remarkable words filled the air, the pigs followed instructions. People from miles around this farm remarked on this technique and exclaimed, “Sows of the warder, drowned lexicon way.”
I imagine the hardest-working person in the world must be Santa Claus. Not only do he and his elves have to check all those lists (twice), manufacture toys, and plan his once-a-year journey around the world, but there are many logistic to consider just to survive and flourish up there at the frozen North Pole. Certainly getting all their supplies delivered on a timely basis is no mere undertaking. One winter several years ago, severe storms and incredible cold weather interfered with getting supplies. Few vendors were able to get through to Santa and his elves, and not only were Santa and his elves not able to build their millions of toys, but their very survival was threatened.
Basic necessities such as food were undeliverable, and soon Santa, the elves, and even the reindeer were suffering and facing starvation. Santa didn’t know what to do, but the work must continue, and eventually Santa and his helpers were reduced to considering eating the reindeer for survival. The very idea of consuming the reindeer was terrible, but they had no choice. Survival depended on their staying alive, and transportation requirements for Christmas Eve would have to be decided upon later. Soon Dasher and Dancer, Comet and Cupid, Prancer and Vixin, Donner and Blitzen and even Rudolph were slaughtered and eaten. Reindeer meat is tough and stringy, but in order to survive the terrible winter of short supply, they had no choice. Some of the reindeer tasted better than others, but there was not doubt that Dasher was the most succulent. All agreed that Dasher was the best venison.
Bowls and Arrows
We are all familiar with the bow-and-arrow expertise of the famous Swiss archer William Tell. Sure he shot an apple off his son’s head with his bow and arrow, but archery was not the only prowess for which the Tell family was famous. Few remember the Tells were the most family bowling family in Switzerland.
The Tells were such accomplished bowlers that eventually they started a bowling league, each team representing a Swiss corporation. It was a mark of pride and also an effective marketing strategy to have the Tell team represent your company in the bowling league. Unfortunately, historians have had problems discovering actual information regarding the activities of this bowling league and for hundreds of years, these historians have been perplexed trying to figure out for whom the Tells bowled.
Agriculture has always been a risky business. Even with the technology available to farmers these days, crops are so often at the mercy of uncontrollable weather phenomena. In Florida, particularly, the citrus crops may be devastated by weather that is too cold or hot, too wet or dry. Freezing temperatures in the Sunshine State recently have wreaked havoc with the orange crop, and manufacturers of frozen orange juice have been having difficulties finding enough oranges that have survived the cold, freezing temperatures.
Growers would go into the groves searching for oranges that hadn’t been destroyed by the cold, but the fruits that did find were usually not suitable for producing orange juice. However, they picked all the oranges, whether they were suitable or not, even though most oranges couldn’t be used to produce frozen orange juice. After having had to throw away most of the oranges, the companies explained to their shareowners an the orange juice=loving public in general that the shortages resulted from the fact that as far as oranges were concerned, many were called, but few were frozen.
Among the countries of the world, perhaps few have as many quaint and traditional customs as does Scotland. Scotland is famous throughout the world for its tartan plaids, unusual foods, as the home of golf, and many more. But what is much less known is that Scotland is famous for its design and production of shaving brushes. Most fine shaving brushes are made of some type of hair combed from local animals. One would suppose that the sheep and boars of Scotland provided most of that material for the famous shaving brushes produced in Scotland. One family was particularly known for its shaving implements. That family was an old Scottish clan known as the Rosses. Roger MacDonald Ross, the founder of the company and old patriarch of the family always insisted, perhaps with a bit of presumptuousness, that only the finest hair and bristles were to be found in any shaving brush produced by the Ross Company.
The secret to the Ross brushes was that the hair in the brushes did not come from any of the more commonly thought animals, but came from the common ground mole. These particular moles whose fates it were to become shaving brushes were developed and raised and bred to exact specifications, and no other animal, rodent or whatever, could possibly be used in the manufacture of these outstanding shaving brushes. Unfortunately, as the popularity of the shaving brushes made from the Rosses’ moles increased, the company began to experience an acute shortage of moles. Old Ross would not allow any substitutes, and his family business officials tried without success to substitute rabbit, mouse, and any other animal fur they could to continue to meet the demand for famous Ross shaving brushes. Finally, they had choice. Drastic action was required.
A young man in the company made a deal with some local poachers and thieves to buy any moles they could find. Business was good, and the shaving brushes continued to be manufactured, but with they hair of these purloined moles gathered from the countryside. As the number of brushes produced increased, Old Roger MacDonald Ross grew suspicious. He may have been a dottering old man, but he knew that such production couldn’t’ be entirely on the “up and up.” He asked his staff where they were getting hair to make the brushes. One official confessed that they were not using Ross-bred moles but moles taken illegally. The old patriarch asked angrily if people in his family were actually
using these brushes. The dismayed official confessed that yes, they were. The old man thundered, “This will never do. A stolen mole lathers no Ross.”
A Future in Stamp Collecting
Every parent want his or her child to develop a wide range of interests. In addition to doing well in school, obviously, a young adult’s interests often pave the way for future careers. One enthusiastic father was intent on exposing his child to as many outside interests as possible, and while the young man was growing up, his father taught him how to play baseball and basketball, tried to interest him in the wonders of reading, and attempted to enlighten him on the joy of collecting—stamps, coins, model airplanes, and more. The young child probably tried and rejected dozens of pasttimes, never really “turned on” to any of them. However he fell in love with stamp collecting.
Beautiful stamps from exotic countries excited him, and gave him a wanderlust for exploring and learning about such countries. Stamps from the United States awakened in him a passion for United States history. Not only did he love to collect stamps, he loved the world of learning stamp collecting opened for him. As thrilled as his parents were with his hobby, they were concerned. After all the young collector’s enthusiasm for stamp collecting dominated his life completely. The mother was worried that he was neglecting his homework for his stamp collection; the father was concerned that his son showed no interest in anything else. He hated sports, his friends were few, and he seemed bored by everything but stamp collecting.
Finally, both parents were fed up with this single-minded interest. “What good is this stamp collecting going to do to him?” they asked each other. Concerned that he wasn’t directed toward anything in the future, they lectured him. “In the end,” said his father to his son, “philately will get you no where.”
A Dockside Shortage
A few years ago, several construction companies bid to build a new dock along a beach in northern California. Because Californians are very environmentally conscious and well aware that any seaside construction might disturb the fragile ecology of the ocean, the city intent on building the dock created very stringent regulations and requirements for all companies bidding to construct the wharf. When the bids came in, all were very high, and the city realized that they weren’t going to get any dock built to their exact specifications and requirements. However, one company, unfortunately a sleazy one, did enter a significantly lower bid, and this company was awarded the contract.
During the course of construction, the company building the dock began to realize that it had underbid, and the job was going to cost more than it had anticipated. Naturally, the company began to cut corners. For example, it realized that it could not provide enough lumber to complete the fishing pier that would extend out to the ocean. It convinced the city authorities that this was a minor problem. If they could leave a one-foot space or gap between boards it could complete the job. Thus, the dock would have slits between the boards. The pier was to extend about 300 feet out into the ocean, but the company even miscalculated that, and instead of completing the dock to 300 feet, the company halted work when the dock had reached only 200 feet.
The city officials were unhappy, and asked what had happened. The contracting company replied that they had run out of lumber and couldn’t put in enough spaces between boards or the dock would be dangerous to walk upon. They city officials then realized that when you’re out of slits, you’re out of pier.
An Elephant Tale
Few people remember that Rudyard Kipling did not write his jungle stories as novels or even complete stories. Rather, they were written for 19th. Century magazines and were published in segments over many months. This was a popular fictional genre then, perhaps practiced most famously by Charles Dickens. Readers would read a chapter from a Kipling story in a monthly publication, and then had to wait a month for each new installment.
Readers would finish reading one exciting chapter, reveling in the adventures of the animals in the exotic jungles of India, and have to wait weeks, even months for the next installment to appear in the particular periodical they were reading. One tale in particular intrigued readers. It was a long, suspenseful story centering around a family of pachyderms. As readers waited for the next episode to appear, they could talk about little else but Kipling’s periodic fable of the elephants.
Home Away Home on the Range
Women were rare in the old West, and a man got lonely. Although western towns in the 19th century did have their share of prostitutes, saloon girls, and other assorted women of ill-repute, those cowboys who headed up the trails on cattle drives spent months in lonely, barren territory, often not even seeing a woman. Leave it to the enterprising women of the west to solve that dilemma. Some of the prostitutes created a traveling organization of girls who accompanied the cowboys on their long, once-lonely trail drives.
Traveling on horseback for many hours at a stretch was hard on the body, particularly the rump, and most prostitutes, willing to put up with many hardships, found this particular discomfort to be very annoying. After a few years, only the whores with significantly large, muscular, and roundish behinds made the journeys. Needless to say, there were not a lot of such stalwart, adequately shaped women. As the years passed, fewer and fewer made the tedious journeys. In fact, sometimes only six or seven girls were available, and the men had to scramble to procure one for the evening. Sometimes these men would make elaborate plans and establish imaginative ruses to get one of the few remaining women. One young cowboy had a particular interest in the fattest woman, the one with the largest, fullest behind. Nobody else was interest in this girl, and she was usually the final choice among the other for an evening’s entertainment. He would sneak off each evening from the campfire, clutching his bedroll to have his tryst away from camp. One evening, while sneaking off, he was spotted by the trail boss, who inquired as to where he was going. The young cowhand replied, “I’m bedding for the last round rump.”
The Sins of the Fathers …
In 1978, when Pope John Paul II became the first non-Italian pontiff in several hundred years, the entire world was surprised. The Church had begun a long tradition of selecting popes only from among the Italian cardinals. The Church is replete with non-Italians in many of its highest positions, however, the Church would rather forget one case from 1952.
The Korean Conflict had just ended, and one of the important representatives of the Catholic Church was a Korean archbishop named Singh. Archbishop Singh was loved by the Koreans because of his courage and unselfishness serving his flock and the church during the war. He smuggled food to the poor, ran several orphanages, and risked his life countless times to help convey information to the United Nations forces, and in short, he kept the Catholic Church thriving during those tragic, war-torn years. No doubt, after the war, some sort of recognition from the Vatican was in order.
Pope Pius XII wanted to honor him, and the logical step was, of course, to have invited Archbishop Singh to Rome to accept he “red hat.” Unfortunately, church officials and the hierarch resisted such a move, and Archbishop Singh remained an archbishop. After all, the Holy church felt it most inappropriate to become responsible for Cardinal Singh.
Strike up the Band
One of the great traditions of American economics is the evolution of the labor-management negotiations. Unfortunately, not always do contract negotiations go smoothly, and whereas we often think about the often unreconcilable differences between blue-collar and white-collar personnel, let us not forget that anybody can go on strike. A great symphony orchestra is not immune, but a recent event in New York brought this thought to its logical conclusion.
Musicians have often gone on strike, but symphony conductors have never, to my understanding, refused to perform. They are temperamental, to be sure, and they must have standards of perfection in order to get their orchestras to play to the best of their abilities. However, with economic conditions as they are, the City of New York was not able to pay its symphony conductor the salary he felt he was worth. Eventually, the orchestra’s board of directors fired him and attempted to replace him. However, all other professional and competent conductors would not accept the position. In the spirit of solidarity, they refused to become scab conductors. However, the board did manage to locate a promising conducting student from a local music school. The young conductor was not very good, was probably tone deaf, and couldn’t tell the differences among the instruments he heard.
During the first rehearsal, he looked up from his score and suggested the reed instruments play louder. The concertmaster said the reeds had been playing loudly enough; it was the trumpets and trombones that needed more volume. The conductor demurred, insisting that it was the reeds. Finally the concertmaster and the entire orchestra walked out in disgust, the concertmaster exclaiming that the conductor didn’t’ know his brass from his oboe.
An Alaskan Spectacle
Americans are always on the move. Often dissatisfied with where they are living, many seek greener pastures. In fact, the history of American may be seen in the westward movement. The last remaining frontier in the United States is, of course, Alaska, and as more and more people relocate in Alaska, space even in that huge state is becoming crowded, at least in the south and more temperate parts of the 49th state.
Obviously as more and more people populate Alaska, more and more skills are needed to provide the basic services people are used to in the “lower forty-eight.” Doctors, dentists, attorneys, teachers, and more are needed to provide services that people demand. One young, enterprising Alaskan from the southern chain of Alaskan islands realized this, and he understood that one of the services most people require is some to dispense eyeglasses. This young native studied optometry and optometrics in school, and he soon set up a dispensary to serve the vision needs of the residents. He became know as the optical Aleutian.
During the beginning years of the Peace Corps in the 1960s, many volunteers were providing help to thousands of people all over the world. Understandably, not every Peace Corps volunteer was working in what was exactly his or her specialty.
For example, volunteers trained in mechanics might be aiding underdeveloped countries in agriculture. Teachers of English or history were teaching math. Carpenters might have been involved in plumbing problems. One famous case of somebody working outside his or her expertise was a dentist who was training Africans in such health fields as nursing, physical therapy, and radiology.
Yet this dentist’s natural teaching skills were such that he was most successful. He was asked to travel throughout Africa dispensing his knowledge of dentistry and his rudimentary understanding of medicine. He soon became famous as the Peace Corps volunteer who practiced transit dental medication.
Name That Tune
Occasionally the technicians and people behind the scenes at musical concerts and extravaganzas can be as temperamental as the artist themselves. One of the most notorious of these was a piano tuner from Eastern Europe named Opper Nockety. As obnoxious as Opper Nockety was, he was always in demand by the finest pianists and concert producers became nobody had an ear for tuning pianos like he did. He was, in short, the finest tuner of pianos in the world.
However, he was such a perfectionist that one he finished his work on a piano, he would never admit or acknowledge that he might have to correct his work. And usually he was correct. His ego was as huge as his skills. One day during a concert by the renowned but equally temperamental artist, Joshua Horowitz, at Carnegie Hall in New York City, Opper Nockety was called during the afternoon of the concert to adjust and tune Horowitz’s Steinway. Unfortunately, during the middle of the concert, Horowitz became dissatisfied with the tone or timbre of his piano, and he insisted that Opper Nockety return and readjust the Steinway.. When Opper Nockety was called at home, he arrogantly refused to return, saying, “Opper Nockety tunes by once.”
A Brush with a Sage
A young woman named Rosemary was becoming more and more upset. She wasn’t very bright, and her co-workers couldn’t help but reminder he as often as possible of her intellectual shortcomings.
One day, Rosemary had had enough. She enrolled in college, but her educational skills and minimal native intelligence were not enough to help her. She became desperate. She consulted every quack and charlatan she could to try to improve her intelligence.
Finally, she was driven to consult a guru. Rosemary travelled to India where she climbed a high mountain to consult the world’s most acknowledged guru. Impatient with the time it was apparently going to take to become more intelligent, Rosemary asked the guru exactly how much time it was actually going to take before she became smart.
This guru, remarkable in many ways, had very little to work with in Rosemary’s case. She asked him, “How long before I become as smart as you?”
He replied, “That could take a lifetime,” the wise one answered, “but if you study dutifully, you should see some results soon. Although you’ll never be as smart as I am, you will be practically sage, Rosemary, in time.”
Not a Leg to Stand On
Hundreds of years ago, in a small village in Europe, a peaceful people lived in harmony with nature and themselves. Unfortunately, a fierce tribe of cannibals lived a short distance away, and although relations were usually peaceful, the fierce cannibals were hungry for land as well as human flesh, and they descended upon the peaceful people and attacked them.
These fierce cannibals had a particular liking for earing only the arms and legs of their victims, and they especially enjoyed eating the lower extremities of their victims’ legs. While the onslaught was proceeding, some of the peaceful natives managed to escape to a neighboring village where they were given refuge.
In honor of their escape, the chief of the village feted the escapees by presenting the first play ever staged in his underdeveloped area of the world. Obviously, the acting was awful, and even the chief was embarrassed by the production. Turning to his audience and particularly his honored guest, he commanded, “Let those of you without shins, stone the first cast.”
Juan of All Trades
Young Joseph Hernandez was wanted by the police, but before his youthful, illegal indiscretions, his history is a most fascinating one. Joseph was the illegitimate son of a nun, and his was raised in a convent in northeaster Spain, near Barcelona. Among the skills he learned while growing up was flute playing.
Eventually Señor Hernandez escaped his low-paying musician’s job in Spain and travelled throughout Europe and the Middle East, trying to eke out a living. But wages were either low or non-existent for a nun’s son whose only skills were flute playing. He tried farming, but never adjusted to life behind a plow. He found himself destitute in Israel and was forced into a life of crim. He robbed a bank in Haifa, Israel, and the Israeli police pull out an all-points bulletin asking citizens to be on the lookout for a “Haifa-lootin’, flutin’-tootin’ son of a nun from Barcelona, part-time plow boy Joe.”
A Loan, so All a Loan
Undoubtedly, the most heated competition among banks these days is the fierce attempt to get as many people as possible to borrow money. After all, the interest on these loans is what earns the banks money.
Banks have tried a variety of methods to attract customers to take loans. They advertise low interest; they advertise speedy service; they advertise free credit cards. However, the most successful bank came up with a slogan that far surpassed any other banks’ strategies. They made loans faster than any other bank. An application for a loan at this bank was reviewed and approved in only a matter of hours. The banks’ motto was “The Loan Arranger and Pronto.”
A Gem of a Story
A seafood restaurant was well known for its shellfish. People came from all over the world to sample the delicacies of this wonderful restaurant. Diners lavished extravagant praise on the restaurant’s’ offerings, but the shellfish, including clams, oysters, mussels, and crab, came in for particular accolades.
Having served up so much shellfish, it was no surprise that more than a few diners discovered the ultimate treat when eating oysters—perfectly shaped and valuable pearls. Yet even the amazing oyster cannot create a perfect pearl every time. One diner had a negative experience.
While enjoying his oysters one evening, he bit something hard. Unfortunately, upon removing the impediment from his mouth, he found it not to be a perfectly round, smooth pearl, but one with bumps, edges and dirt on it. Having bitten into it, he sustained a broken tooth and required extensive dental surgery. His experience stayed with him for a long time, and his chronic discomfort caused him to realize that a gritty pearl is like a malady.
A Joint Undertaking
Orthopedic surgeons specializing in sports medicine have probably seen just about every unusual and strange injury that can befall athletes. However, one orthopedist was amazing when a patient came to him with one of the most unusual injuries ever seen.
The patient was a beautiful young woman who had injured her knee skiing. Nothing unusual in that, but the knee was broken in several places, the tendons were twisted, and the ligaments torn. The doctor knew he was facing a most difficult challenge in repairing the knee, but he knew that the unusual condition warranted a write-up in the medical journals.
During consultation with his patient, he took one look at his beautiful patient and one look at the horrible knee, and asked, “What’s a joint like this doing in a girl like you?”
A Racy Tale
With the emphasis on ecology these days, combined with the cost of fuel, it was only a matter of time before environmentalists began to become uneasy with the waste of fuel and the increasing air pollution caused by cars at that most famous of American auto races, the Indianapolis 500.
What disturbed the environmentalists most were complaints by resident living near the track. They complained vociferously about the noise and pollution caused by the cars. But what disturbed them even more was the putrid-smelling exhaust that continually emanated from the cars themselves. During the racing season, they were rarely able to emerge from their homes without being assaulted by noxious fumes filling the air.
Finally these residents had had enough, and they decided to file a suit against the Raceway for Indy scent exposure.
Higher Education? Why?
The parents of a young high school senior were very proud when she was admitted to Wellesley College in Massachusetts, one of the finest colleges in the nation. Little did they know, however, that their young daughter’s interests were not limited to those solely academic. She had a fondness for young men also.
The young academician soon discovered that men abounded in Boston, and she became particularly attracted to two young students who were living in two separate YMCA’s near the campus. Unfortunately, she began spending more time visiting her young beaus than attending to academic pursuits, and her grades after one semester reflected that inattention. Her time was spent more at the two local YMCA’s than on campus. After one year, she flunked out fo school, apparently because she loved not Wellesley but two Y’s.
As a symbol of solidarity within the new Europe, the presidents of Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic began a tradition of bear hunting together each October. To hunt, talk and generally get away from the cares of state, they always went alone, without guards and the various political hanger-on who might normally accompany heads of state. That is why, perhaps, they disappeared. After the official police investigation turned up no tract of the three heads of state, a great detective was called in.
This detective knew that late in the year, bears prepare for hibernation by eating ravenously, and then they seek a den where they sleep through the winter. He also realized that the female bears, which give birth to their cubs in the spring, are especially hungry during the fall months.
After careful preparations with a team of local guides, this modern-day Sherlock Holmes set out to find the hunters. They soon located sets of human footprints overlaid by the tracks of two large bears. In a dense part of the forest, they found scattered fragments of clothing, camping gear, and hunting equipment. Following the tracks, it was a simple matter to discover where the male and female bears were sleeping, and the guides shot and killed him.
As the female bear was being skinned and gutted, the detective found clothing and bone fragments that positively identified the Pole and the Hungarian. He mentioned this evidence to the guides, and then added, “I assume you that the Czech is in the male.”
While visiting Washington D.C. with her father, a young girl named Shelley was on line to sign the guest register at the White House. Also visiting the White House at the same time were a number of representatives of the Catholic church, in the capital to participate in their annual convention.
The line waiting to enter the White House was long, and young Shelley was growing impatient waiting for all the guests to register. As patience is not a common virtue in the young, Shelley quickly burst to the front of the line, elbowing out of the way several patiently waiting priests and sisters. One of the sisters whom Shelley had dashed in front of and was about to affix her name to the guest book. Shelley’s father saw what was happening and admonished his daughter by saying, “Wait till the nun signs, Shelley.”
Out of the Game
Several years ago, major league umpires went on strike because they felt their wages were too low; compared to what professional baseballs players were earning, the umpires were undoubtedly correct. However, that didn’t solve the league’s problems. Officials needed umpires in order to begin the season.
They searched the minors and the various umpire schools for candidates and finally managed to round up enough umpires, though many were not necessarily up to major-league caliber. One particular umpire was competent, but he did have an annoying habit. He had a craving for raisins. He couldn’t work for more than an hour or so if he didn’t have his regular “fix” of raisins. Yet he made it to the majors and umpired several games, always secure in his stash of raisins which he kept in the pockets of his umpire’s uniform.
One day, a game went into extra innings, many extra innings, and by the fifteenth or sixteenth inning, with the score still tied and his responsibilities on the field continuing, he ran out of raisins. Between innings, he went to the two teams’ dugouts and asked all the players if they had any raisins. Some did, and that satiated his need for several innings, but soon the players also ran out of raisins. The hungry umpire began to walk over to the grandstands and asked fans if he could have some raisins. Some helped, but soon he was walking all over the ballpark, asking fans in the infield and outfield seats for raisins.
League management in attendance was appalled. “How can an umpire, during a game,” they wondered, “walk throughout the park asking fans for raisins? He’s lost control of the game.” The officials threw him out of the game, and his umpiring career was over. The incident was forever remembered as the raisin foul of the roamin’ umpire.
Juan for the Birds
A Mexican named Juan decided that he might be able to supplement his income by investing in, breeding, and selling tropical birds. He began by buying a large parrot and started to raise it to attempt to discover if he ad a flair for handling birds, but he soon discovered that the care and feeding of his rare tropical toucan was costing much more than he had originally anticipated.
Juan tried to save money by sacrificing his own dietary well being and began living on basic staples like rice and beans. Unfortunately, the bird was still very expensive to feed and care for Juan experimented. He began feeding his parrot the same food he ate, and he was surprised to discover that the bird flourished. The parrot did wonderfully well eating the same inexpensive food as Juan.
Juan became famous in the annals of bird breeding when it was discovered that toucan live as cheap as Juan.
The Spice of Life
In an ancient kingdom named Kale, a king was very proud of his agricultural pursuits. He was particularly proud of his huge expanse of vegetables and herbs, which he grew to feed his people and provide income for his kingdom. Equally proud of this field of vegetables and herbs was the king’s young son. He often when out to the fields and helped with the planting and harvesting. So taken with these vast fields of herbs was the young man, that the often simply went out and stared at the crops for hours.
Obviously, the young heir to the throne knew that one day all he surveyed would one day be his, and he made a habit of standing in awe of the vast expanses of herbs and spice plants. One day, the queen was looking or her young son, and she asked the king were their son was. The king, himself just having returned from the fields, was able to answer quickly: “I have left my food prince in the stand of thyme.”
A Dogged Tale
Charles Dickens created many memorable characters. Perhaps his most famous was Old Ebenezer Scrooge, the famous skinflint and overall misanthrope who seemed to hate just about anything and anyone. Scrooge was a man who was universally hated. Yet few people remember that scrooge also owned a dog, and if it is true that animals take on the same characteristics as their masters, this was certainly true in the case of Scrooge’s dog
The day Scrooge died, few people mourned, and the city dogcatcher was dispensed to pick up Scrooge’s dog and take it to the local pound. When the dogcatcher arrived at the late but unlamented Scrooge house, he was viciously attacked by Scrooge’s dog. The dog howled and barked, snapped at him and attacked the dogcatcher. The dogcatcher returned to the pound without the dog. When asked why, he said the dog was impossible to catch. “In fact,” he said, “the cur is worse than the deceased.”
The United States and Russia have been exploring space for many years now, and the dream of manned space station has always been one of the avowed goals of each country. Of course, the logistics of such an enterprise are daunting. One of the most significant problems is how to feed the hundreds of personnel who will be manning these space stations. How long, after all, can people exist on tubes of food and pellets of protein?
That problem was solved recently when the United States decided that a space station must have area enough to keep livestock. Part of every space station must have an area that resembles a grazing pasture for animals so that fresh meat can be readily available to scientist and other on the station. Once such an artificial ranch, so to speak, is constructed, animals can be sent up to be raised and bred. The plan is to begin by launching a rocket ship filled with cattle. This particular venture will be remembered,
certainly, as the herd shot ‘round the world.
A small village in the Pyrenees Mountains between France and Spain is the last remaining refuge for the warlike, independence-loving group of people called Basques. Historically surrounded as they were by the Spaniards and French, they were constantly embattled, and after many years of warfare, the few remaining Basques were all living in a small canyon in the mountains with only two small roads leading in and out.
The ensuing scenarios was inevitable; driving up from the south was battalion os Spanish soldiers intent on eliminating the last vestiges of the Basque people. The terrified inhabitants of the village in the canyon were not particularly intelligent in military matters. In fact, they ended up trying to blockade the road leading into the village and they hid on the last remaining road out of the village.
The Spanish armed forces had anticipated exactly this ill-conceived defense strategy. They ambushed the Basques who were all massing on their one escape route, and all the defenders were slaughtered. The survivors learned to their regret that one doesn’t leave all his Basques in one exit.
A wise king once decided that he needed to defend his castle with more than simply a moat. If he planted hundreds of acres of tall, yellow wheat, what army could leave the castle unseen by the enemies who so often laid siege to his castle.
Unfortunately, his enemies figured out a way to circumvent this defense. The tall-growing wheat, resembling thousands of tall, waving, yellow fingers, provided perfect cover for an invading army … if that army were composed of people short enough to wade through the waving fingers of wheat detected. Tall soldiers were too easily spotted.
Therefore, an enterprising general gathered all of the shortest people form his country. Most of these short people were pages from the court. They massed miles behind the waving yellow wheat stalks and soon waded through them undetected. The successful invasion was apparently a result of the general letting his pages do the walking through the yellow fingers.
A Tour of the Ural Mountains
A young woman named Laura was looking forward with great anticipation to her first trip to Russia. She was particularly excited about a trip through the vast Ural Mountains where she was going to climb some of the higher mountains.
Unfortunately, on her first day’s climb, not used to the strenuous activity, she developed a severe blister on her foot. The poor woman was, however, intent on completing her mountain climbing, and climbed the second day, at which time her blister became inflamed and sore, and her guide insisted she rest for a while before continuing. Laura, however, didn’t want to rest; she wanted to continue. It was important to Laura that she scale the other mountains in the Ural chain. Eventually her guide insisted that her blister was too red and sore to allow her to continue, and in response to her question as to whether she should continue or rest, he said, “Tour all Ural, Laura? Too raw, Laura. Lie.”
Athletics has become part of all our lives, whether as participants or observers, very few of us can escape athletic competition. Even nudist, famed for their volleyball games, have expanded their repertoire of sports activities. One nudist camp in California even decided to state its own Olympics. Although the residents of the colony couldn’t duplicate all the events of the modern Olympics competitions, they did arrange many running events.
Word went out to all the nudist colonies throughout the nation that a great competition was going to be held, and athletes were invited to participate in many traditional track and field events. The organizers were concerned that only bona fide athletes participate. They didn’t want the competition to be anything but of championship caliber. One the brochure advertising of the event, the organizers agreed on a headline for their running competition: “All the nudes that are fit to sprint.”
A renown scientist specializing in the geology and archaeology of ancient Africa was mountain an expedition to central Africa in order to study the interesting rock formations upon which it had been theorized that ancient civilizations had built their houses. He was accompanied by several students, eager to get their first experience in the field as well as impress their professor.
The famous professor of geology and his assistants were investigating some fascinating rock formations which were, as far as they could determine, unknown to science. These particular rocks appeared to exhibit unusual characteristics. For example, when one of the student assistants came up to them and began to scientifically test the rocks’ properties, she was amazed to discover that they appeared to contain remnants fo life. Deeply imbedded in the rocks were trace remains of carbon and other elements that suggested that these rocks themselves were actually alive; their texture was soft, pliable, almost breathing.
The young assistant approached the professor with her discover and could think of nothing else to say except to query the professor with a question: “Doctor, living stone, I presume?”
A Dollar a Day
Those of us who watch television, and who doesn’t nowadays, are all too familiar with the money-raising efforts represented by television telethons. If we watch Public Television, we periodically are compelled to sit through long fund-raising efforts, and many of us are willing to contribute to what we consider to be quality television. For something like thirty or forty years, Jerry Lewis has been raisin money for muscular dystrophy through his famous Labor Day-weekend telethons. Many of these telethons attempt to book the most famous talent they can ensure view interest. However, not too long ago, one such telethon ran into some minor problems.
Two of the stars who were scheduled to appear were Doris Day and Phyllis Diller. On the eve of the telecast, Ms. Diller fell ills, and she had to cancel her appearance. Ms. Day had a benefit performance in another city, and she planned to take and early-morning flight to Los Angeles in order to appear as scheduled. However, there was a very dense fog at the airport, and all flights were delayed. The next flight available didn’t depart until noon, so she had to call the telethon organizers and say that she was going to be delayed.
The organizers were flustered, but they were able to maintain their composure. They found a replacement for Phyllis, and they rescheduled Doris’ time slot. Despite these minor glitches, the telethon came off without a hitch. They achieved their pledge goal even thought they were a Day late and Diller short.