Category Archive: Fun? Maybe? Fun?

Feb 16

Problem with Funny Business Names

Funny Business NamesI hate “funny” business names. They are usually puns. For example, here in the Bay Area, we have Site for Sore Eyes Optical Store. Look: I get it. When I first saw there was an eye doctor named “site for sore eyes,” I thought it was amusing. And there are other ones that I’ve thought were fairly clever. There’s the sporting goods store (Guess what they specialize in!) called “The Merchant of Tennis.” Or the “Church of Cod” with a little Jesus Fish symbol. Or best of all a fish & chips place called “A Salt & Battery.” Clever names all!

And then there are names that while clever are just a bad idea. There’s the hair salon named “Cubic Hair.” And the ice cream shop called “The Sweet Dairy-Air.” And most of all, the fishing supply shop “Master Bait & Tackle.” In addition to these all being coarse, they don’t make sense. What exactly do pubic hair, derriere, and masturbate have to do with what they’re selling. (If you know, please don’t tell me.)

This all came up because Will told me about a routine by comedian Brian Regan. Here is the routine that someone shot off a TV:

The problem with these clever names is that they are only ever clever once. After that, at least for me, they become annoying. What’s more, it reminds me of a scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. They are all going to head to Camelot. Then there is a musical number with knights at Camelot dancing arm in arm. Finally, King Arthur says, “On second thought, let’s not go to Camelot. It is a silly place.” And that’s what I think of when I see an ad for Site for Sore Eyes. Do I really want to trust my eyes to such silly people? (Of course, I know intellectually that this isn’t the case, but gut reactions matter regardless of what many think.)

So if you come up with a really clever name for a dry cleaning business, I hope you are a comedy writer and not dry cleaner:


There are, of course, truly great names that are clever, coarse, and effective. The best example is French Connection UK, better known as FCUK. But that works especially well because it flatters their customer demographic about offending their non-demographic.

Alternately, some names work as a pun or not. A good example of this is Book Passage, a book store just down the road from me. But notice, it isn’t meant to be funny. It is just meant to be taken in a number of ways, each of which are appropriate to the business. It is also a great book store.

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Oct 27

The Yale Record Doesn’t Endorse Clinton

Yale Record Doesn't Endorse ClintonIn its 144-year history, The Yale Record has never endorsed a Democratic candidate for president. In fact, we have never endorsed any candidate for president. This is, in part, due to our strong commitment to being a tax-exempt 501(c)3 organization, which mandates that we are “absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.”

This year’s presidential election is highly unusual, but ultimately no different: The Yale Record believes both candidates to be equally un-endorsable, due to our faithful compliance with the tax code.

In particular, we do not endorse Hillary Clinton’s exemplary leadership during her 30 years in the public eye. We do not support her impressive commitment to serving and improving this country — a commitment to which she has dedicated her entire professional career. Because of unambiguous tax law, we do not encourage you to support the most qualified presidential candidate in modern American history, nor do we encourage all citizens to shatter the glass ceiling once and for all by electing Secretary Clinton on November 8.

The Yale Record has no opinion whatsoever on Dr Jill Stein.

—The Editorial Board of The Yale Record
The Yale Record Does Not Endorse Hillary Clinton

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Oct 10

Elizabeth Channels Bill Pullman in Independence Day

Independence DayIn less than an hour the polls will open. Americans nationwide will join together with Americans around the world. And you will be launching the largest voting effort in the history of Americankind. We can’t be consumed by our petty differences anymore. We will be united in our common interest. Perhaps it is fate that today is the day to elect Hillary Clinton. And that once again you will be fighting the forces of fascism. Fighting tyranny, oppression, and persecution. Fighting annihilation. We are fighting for our right to live. As gay, straight, black, Asian, white, woman, transgender, immigrant or native born. For today is the day that America declared in nearly one voice “We will not go quietly into the night. We will not vanish without a fight. We are going to live on. We are going to survive. And we are going to defeat the Orange Menace!

—Elizabeth Rogers
Parody from Independence Day

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Aug 27

Donald Trump’s Curious Ideas About Racist Hillary Clinton

Donald Trump RacistYesterday, Hillary Clinton delivered a speech tying together Donald Trump’s long history of racism, from his early days excluding African-American tenants from his family’s housing in New York to what Paul Ryan called “textbook racist” comments that a Mexican-American was unfit to judge whether Trump had committed fraud. Trump fired off a peripatetic series of replies. He oddly lambasted Clinton’s speech as “short,” raising the tantalizing question of what further evidence of his racism he believes she should have included. (His racialized hysteria against the “Central Park Five”? His assertions that black people are inherently lazy?) He lambasted Clinton’s use of the racism charge, “the last refuge of the discredited politician,” a cheap trick to which only a scoundrel would resort. Then finally, that evening, forgetting his conviction that only a discredited politician would charge his opponent with racism, Trump appeared on CNN, where he called Clinton a “bigot.”

—Jonathan Chait
Trump: Only Desperate Liars Call Their Opponent Racist. Also Hillary Is Racist.

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Aug 26

Obama’s Mass Lesbian Infiltration Plan

Jonathan ChaitBarack Obama is nearing the finish line of a presidency filled with accomplishments ranging from death panels to FEMA camps to the importation of Sharia law. Year eight is a natural time for Obama to unveil the most deviously brilliant plot of them all: mass lesbian infiltration of the agriculture sector. The Department of Agriculture has cleverly designed this scheme as an innocuous outreach summit to LGBT Americans living in rural areas. But Rush Limbaugh has exposed the administration’s true intentions, which are nothing less than a full-scale assault on the last bastion of red-state America.

Here’s how it works. “Rural America happens to be largely conservative. Rural America is made up of self-reliant, rugged individualist types,” explains Limbaugh. (Farmers are “self-reliant” because, even though their sector is technically the recipient of heavy federal subsidies, they are overwhelmingly white.) …

I mean, it’s pretty obvious that once Obama locks up the farmers in FEMA camps, he’s going to need to repopulate the farms with political loyalists, or else the cities will have food shortages. That’s where the lesbians come in. By the time Hillary Clinton is running for her fourth term, red America will have been completely liquidated, and she won’t even need Acorn to steal the election for her.

—Jonathan Chait
Mass Lesbian Farm Infiltration Is Obama’s Best Scheme Yet

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Jul 21

Larry Miller’s The Secret of Skiing

Larry MillerWhen I was a teen, there was some comedy competition that ran on HBO or something. It was first done regionally. And then the winners of each regional one met. As I recall, Eddie Murphy won. Now I think Murphy is one of the best comedic actors ever. But I never thought much of him as a stand-up comic. It just doesn’t play to his skills. But in that competition, I discovered the comedian Larry Miller. He was interesting in one particular way: he was the only comedian who did a different routine in the final than he had done in the region — an indication of his greatness.

One of the routines he did was “The Secret of Skiing.” It was about 8 minutes long. But I found a version online that is 35 minutes long. I don’t know if the routine has grown over the years or if he just whittled it down to 8 minute for the competition. It doesn’t matter. It’s magnificent. He’s really an old style comedian. He reminds me of Shelley Berman, although I think Larry Miller is actually more talented.

You owe it to yourself to listen to this. After all these years, I laughed myself silly. Of course, my opinion of skiing is pretty much the same as his — and the goat’s (listen and you’ll know what I’m talking about).

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Jul 20

A Somewhat Less Menacing Mark Zuckerberg

Mark ZuckerbergThis movie [Batman vs Superman] is not good, but I liked it more than I expected. Wonder Woman is in the film for some reason, and Jesse Eisenberg decides to play Lex Luthor as a somewhat less menacing, less dangerous version of Mark Zuckerberg.

I’m going to credit that last as an actual decision and not an accident, and it’s… interesting. Maybe the point is that Luthor has never conceived of a scheme to dominate the lives of everyday people so grandiose, and so completely successful, as Facebook? Would Batman or Superman have destroyed the algorithm on Zuckerberg’s dorm room window?

—Robert Farley
Movies on a Plane

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Jul 17

Everything about Debra Jackson and Dollar Palace


I got the image above from an email list I’m on that occasionally sends out funny stuff. And it is amusing: the idea that Walmart is a place that one would need to dress up for. Here is the text for those who can’t see the image:

Debra Jackson says she likes shopping at the Dollar Palace because it is convenient and casual.

“I don’t have to get all dressed up like I’m going to Wal-Mart or something,” she said…

This image is very similar to the College of Planning sign image. It’s been around for years, and every few months a new group of people find it and it goes viral. Again.

As far as I can tell, it dates back to an article from 2005 in The Daily Town Talk. It is now called, The Town Talk. It was founded in 1883 and covers central Louisiana.

Dollar Palace Was a Real Place

The article appears to be about Dollar Palace, which had opened in November 2004. (It appears to be out of business now — but it was in business as late as 2007.) These kinds of articles are standard for local papers. There’s a new business in town so a reporter goes out, talks to the owner and the customers, and files a story.

Is Debra Jackson for Real?

Over at the Snopes forum, Ovalescent noted something very interesting:

I’m guessing it’s just from a quasi-rural area where Wal-Mart is the main grocery/department store. If you’re way more likely to run into family or co-workers, it’s a dressier affair. I personally don’t doll myself up, but I always make sure I’m at least brushed out and cleaned up before I go there lest I inevitably run into someone I know.

That makes a lot of sense. When Walmart moves into a rural area, it becomes something of an attraction. Debra Jackson isn’t some idiot redneck who thinks Walmart is such a great thing. But she is recognizing that it is the economic center of her area.

Is It a Hoax?

A lot of people have just assumed that it is a hoax. But there are a number of things that push against that. The first is that it is an image. One would have had to have gone to a lot of trouble to create the base image. Then, there’s the highlighting and pen outline. That’s a lot of work to go to just to make fun of yokels in a pretty gentle way.

Even if it weren’t an image, most hoaxes of these kinds have no details. At the time, various people were talking about it coming from an established paper. (I’ve found a couple of links to the original article, but it is down and nothing on that site is saved on It wasn’t the standard, “A large newspaper in the northwest reported about a woman…” There are specifics that can be checked. It passes the smell test.

On the other hand, it would be different if Debra Jackson had said, “I love Dollar Palace! It’s the only store where they keep the darkies in line.” (Dollar Palace was owned by Kenneth Williams, an African American.) In that case, I would start looking for signs of Photoshop in the image above. But as it stands, it seems very likely that it is the real deal, and that Debra Jackson had a good reason for saying what sounds like something very silly.

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Jul 06

God the Deal Maker

Corey RobinThe Talmud tells a story: the reason God covenanted with the Jews was that they were the only ones who were willing to take the deal.

According to a commentary on Deuteronomy, “When God revealed Himself to give the Torah to Israel, He revealed Himself not only to Israel but to all the nations.” First God goes to the children of Esau, asking them if they will accept the Torah. They ask him what it contains, God says, “Though shalt not murder,” they say, no thanks.

God goes to the Ammonites and Moabites. Same response, only for them the prohibition against adultery is the deal-breaker. He goes to the Ishmaelites, to all the peoples of the earth. Each time, they turn him down. They can’t accept some portion of the Torah’s instructions and injunctions.

Then God comes to the Jews. They don’t ask questions. They simply “accepted the Torah, with all of its explanations and details.” So God “surrendered them [the Torah and all of its details] to Israel.”

You almost get a sense, reading the midrash, of God’s weariness. The Jews aren’t his first choice, but they’ll take the deal. God’s exhausted, history is made.

—Corey Robin
From the Talmud to Judith Butler

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Jul 03

Clara Shortridge Foltz’s Smack Down

Clara Shortridge FoltzCounsel tells you that I am a woman. I wonder that the planets did not stand still in their course and rivers cease to run to the sea at the announcement of this startling discovery. I am amazed that His Honor did not faint upon the bench and that you gentlemen of the jury have survived this awful shock to your nervous systems.

Let me kindly admonish the learned counsel that in a matter of great pith and moment like this he should break the news gently and not plunge such an original thought upon an unprepared jury. A few more such thoughtless revelations and your nervous forces will be destroyed and your reason dethroned. Counsel should beware how he heedlessly enlightens an unprepared jury on such a vital topic.

Again he tells you that I am a woman. By a natural antithesis I presume he would have you infer that he is not. I suppose he wants me to tell you that he is a man and he takes this hurried opportunity and adroit method of testifying to the fact. Though nobody has yet denied it, he seems to be in a fever of anxiety to emphasize that he is a man. I don’t know why he should make such unseemly haste in announcing it…

I am that formidable and terrifying object known as a woman — while he is only a poor, helpless, defenseless man, and he wants you to take pity on him and give him a verdict in this case. I sympathize with counsel in his unhappy condition. True, the world is open to him. He is the peer of all men — he can aspire to the highest offices, he can carry a torch over our streets during a political campaign and sell his vote for a dollar and half on election day, and yet he isn’t satisfied. Like Alexander, who wanted more worlds to conquer, he wants verdicts, and in order to awaken your sympathy for him, he tells you that I am a woman and he is only a man.

—Clara Shortridge Foltz, 1890
(Quote is in response to attorney Thetas Stonehill noting that she was a woman.)
On The Art of The Smack-Down

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Jun 04

Fun at Phoenix Comic Con 2016

Phoenix Comic ConI am at the Phoenix Comic Con this weekend and thought I would share some of the interesting things that occur at one of these events.  The first official one started in 1964 although you could say that since they were based on the old science fiction conventions of the 1930s, it was in the 30s.  However nowadays they are comprised of everything to do with what is considered genre fiction, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, animated movies, TV shows, or cartoons. Basically: geekdom. We use the term “comic con” as a simple way of describing it.

The big one is, of course, San Diego’s Comic Con that has 130,000 people crammed into San Diego’s convention center.  Even though there is over six hundred thousand square feet, it is an immensely packed convention. Phoenix Comic Con is much the same way because it has been growing by leaps and bounds — going from 432 attendees to almost 80,000 in 14 years.  Luckily Phoenix knows how to do AC so even though we have so many people attending during a heat wave, it isn’t that hot. I have been to conventions that don’t know what they are doing with AC and it is really important since a lot of people dress up in costumes that have got to be suffocating in the heat.

Typically the conventions happen this way: a section for gaming, a section for panels, a section for famous people. And, of course, everywhere is for cosplay:

Cosplay - Phoenix Comic Con


Gaming is both electronic and table top.  Back in the day, there was Dungeons & Dragons (and the myriad similar games), the standard Monopoly, The Game of Life, and a few others.  But now you have an almost infinite array of different games to pick from. I have about a dozen and they are all fun but very time consuming. At Phoenix Comic Con they have one floor of the Hyatt hotel turned completely over to table top gaming so people can learn about new games, play with friends, and just relax.

Electronic gaming is set up where you can do mass playing, contests, and other things that gamers do with those things.  Generally it is not as big a deal at Phoenix Comic Con. But that’s not to say they don’t take it seriously. Very seriously:



This is where people get to discuss the things they enjoy. This is where Frank would shine since he could do a panel on Don Quixote and spend an hour telling everyone in extreme detail about the themes as the apply to some random sci-fi movie. [R2-D2 as Don Quixote and C-3PO as Sancho? Yeah, I could do that. -FM] Or talk about sixties sci-fi movies he may have seen since he doesn’t watch anything after 1980. [With good reason! -FM]

But mostly you have panels on everything from a mock trial of the Winter Soldier to music of Lord of the Rings to premiers of new shows and movies.


The big thing that comic cons are known for is the cosplay. People like to dress up as fictional characters and while everyone is familiar with the storm troopers, as you see above, there is a lot more variety these days.

From Bob of Bob’s Burgers to a bulky Transformer to a Viet Cong swamp zombie, there’s something for everyone:

Three Cosplay Characters

There are a lot more, of course, but you get the idea. But if you really want insanity, you’ll have to go to a gun show.

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Apr 17

Anniversary Post: Daffy Duck Is Born!

Daffy DuckI’ve gotten rather tired of doing anniversary posts. So tomorrow, I’m going to start doing at least some fake anniversary posts: things that didn’t happen, so far as I know. That doesn’t mean I’m going to do them every day. But it will make it easier when I get a bad day. Not that tomorrow is a bad day! I haven’t looked. Anyway, I’m rerunning last year’s anniversary post, because it deals with a really important event. At least to me. Daffy Duck!

On this day in 1937, the first appearance of Daffy Duck was made in the Looney Tunes short, “Porky’s Duck Hunt.” In those early shorts, Daffy is a much more likable character. He’s kind of like Bugs Bunny, but absolutely insane. He’s also a lot more like a real duck. I find him quite charming. And this sets up a long collaboration with Porky Pig. Although in subsequent shorts they are more friends or, as was more true later on, Daffy was often trying to con the trusting Porky. My favorite is “Fool Coverage” where Daffy sells Porky accident insurance that will pay a million dollars, “Provided the accident occurs as the result of a stampede of wild elephants in your own living room, on the Fourth of July — of any year — between the hours of 3:55 and 4:00 pm, during a hailstorm.” Which of course is exactly what happens.

Daffy Duck V 1.0

Anyway, here is the short that started it all:

Daffy Duck V 2.0

There is a middle period where Daffy is still kind of duck like, and still mostly insane. “Yankee Doodle Daffy” is a good example of it:

Daffy Duck V 3.0

Later, the portrayal of Daffy Duck turned very meta — with Daffy constantly jealous of Bugs Bunny. These are still quite good, but I don’t really like the two characters being pitted against each other. It doesn’t show either of them in the best light. My favorite later Daffy Duck cartoon is “Duck Amuck” where he is all alone. Or is he?

Happy birthday Daffy Duck!

See Also

Joe Miller Joke Book
Bugs: Rabbit or Hare? (One of my favorite and most popular articles!)

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