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    Esther Blumenfeld  

    The purpose of this web site is to entertain.  My humor columns died along with the magazines where they were printed, although I cannot claim responsibility for their demise.  I still have something to say, and if I can bring a laugh or two to your day, my mission will be fulfilled.

    Everyone I know thinks he has a sense of humor.  Here is my unsolicited advice. If you try to be funny and no one laughs, don’t worry about it.  However, if you try to be funny and no one EVER laughs, you might have a little problem.

     

    Friday
    Oct132017

    UNINVITED PESTS

    Little ground squirrels have suddenly taken a great liking to my front yard. They are very cute until holes start appearing in the turf—mine!—-not theirs! So, not being an animal killer, I have tried various recommended methods to rid myself of my unwanted visitors.

    First, I tried mothballs.That worked until the tiny critters learned how to kick them out of their holes.  I don’t know how many  ground squirrels it takes to make a team, but if my bushes were goal posts, I know that several touchdowns were in the making, and I can just see the little pests waving their tails and cheering their team to victory. Now, my yard was filled with tiny, white, smelly lumps that looked like snowballs. I knew it wasn’t snow, because we don’t get snow in Tucson in the summer, and it didn’t melt.

    Okay! A box of mothballs cost $6.00. I had purchased two of them. No big deal. Next, I tried coyote urine, and No! I didn’t hike into the mountains, holding a bottle, looking for incontinent coyotes. Coyote urine can be purchased in liquid form (Yuck!) or granules. So, I purchased a bottle of coyote urine granules, and scattered them into and around the wee ground squirrel habitat. That worked for a week. However, the instructions said that I needed to repeat the treatment several times to get good results. At $20.00 a pop, I wasn’t going to repeat this treatment after figuring out how many ground squirrels I could purchase for $20.00.

    Oh, Yes, coyote urine is also a repellent against deer.  I am happy to report that no deer are digging holes into my yard.

    So, now I have called upon my common sense and said said to myself, “If I were a ground squirrel, sitting in a hole, what would discourage my digging habit?” And, my solution is HOT SAUCE! I purchased the biggest, baddest, hottest bottle of Red Mexican Hot Sauce I could find in the grocery store for $3.00. When I opened the bottle, I put some of the sauce on my finger, and then my lower lip, and hightailed my way to the refrigerator to get a cube of ice.

    The little squirrel pits are now filled with hot sauce, and my yard looks as if someone had committed a very pungent murder. This morning I found a pretty big…”Let’s get the Hell out of here exit hole,” and I haven’t seen any more holes since. Hopefully, the ground squirrels will find my neighbor’s yard more hospitable.

    I just hope that tomorrow I won’t find little pests sitting in my yard, eating tacos and singing, “Vaya Con Dios My Darling,” and shouting “HOLA!” at passing cars.

    Esther Blumenfeld

    Friday
    Oct062017

    GUERRILLA HUMOR AND VERBAL DEFENSE

    For some reason, that I cannot comprehend, President Trump thinks it’s okay to use his bully pulpit to publicly insult anyone who gets in his way. However, it is well to note that self-deprecating humor is not part of his repertoire.

    So, what’s a sitting duck to do in defense of an all-out verbal or active thumbs Presidential assault? Some of Trump’s minions have chosen to grin and bear it, while he skewers, lambasts and rips them apart. That just isn’t finger licking good!

    However, he and others like him, would be well warned to avoid professional comedians whose humorous tactics can sabotage any attacks with their razor sharp wit and bevel-edged jokes, that they can deliver with machine gun precision.

    Humor is the weapon of the underdog, and success depends on striking hostile forces hit-and-run style and getting away with it fast—-no matter with whom you are dealing. Successful comedians have thrown barbs such as:

    “One hundred years ago, Congress gave Presidents more respect.  Of course, look what happened to them. Today, they are all dead.”

    “I know that you reporters are looking forward to hearing the dope from the top. Well, I am proud to introduce——“

    “This person standing next to me has no equals—Superiors, Yes!”

    “For years, this powerful man has rewarded me with money and promotions. And, to think that I owe it all to the morning I saw him coming out of the Pine-tar Motel on Maiden Lane.”

     To defend oneself men and women of irony need quips and chains, cutting remarks and perfect timing with infrared sarcasm sensors.  However, unless you are a professional, it is well advised to use this tactic sparingly. Sad to say, sometimes it is simply necessary unless you are a total wimp. But beware. Because, it’s easy, even for professional comics, to lose their grip after rappelling down the precipice of good taste.

    One time, I was Mistress of Ceremony at a large gathering. I gave the speaker a kind but humorous introduction. He gave his speech and then offered to answer some questions.  One woman decided that it was her turn to give a speech instead.  I interrupted her by saying, “There has to be a question in there somewhere.” It worked.

    So here are some rules for Guerrilla Humor:

    A good offensive joke is the best defense.
    When someone knock-knocks, don’t answer.
    Blast your target at close range with high caliber come-backs.
    Ad-libs are funnier when practiced first.
    Melt down and recycle old, worn-out but well tested jokes.

    And, when the  bully, who can dish it out, but can’t take it, protests, you might want to suggest to him, “Sir, when your IQ reaches 90—-Sell!”
    Remember:  “Shoes pinch, death hurts, humor kills!”

    Esther Blumenfeld (Based on “How to Survive a Roast,” Blumenfeld and Alpern, Coffee Break Column, BUSINESS ATLANTA MAGAZINE, May 9, 1989)

    Friday
    Sep292017

    LESS IS MORE THAN MOST

    So, it’s time for me to downsize—a nice expression for “throw stuff away.” I have found that some “stuff” is easy to toss. Worrying that the tax auditors might come after me one day, I had kept lots of unnecessary paperwork in my garage dating back to 1998. Consequently, my paper shredder and I had lots of fun destroying enough paper to fill, not only my recycling can, but also the receptacles of several of my more amenable neighbors.

    Taking a temporary break from paper demolition, I turned my attention to my photo albums, where I have been collecting pictures since 1958. I discovered that there’s enough blackmail material in some of those albums to set me up for the rest of my twilight years. However, I’m not sure that some of my friends with memory problems will remember their first, second and third wives.

    I was once on a cruise where a lecturer said, “I’m not able to throw any of my old photos away.” Then she came down from the stage, handed a photo to everyone in the audience, and said, “So you do it!” “Here’s a picture of the Eiffel Tower. Here’s one of my dog.” and, “Here’s one of my second husband who won the dog in our divorce settlement.”

    Throwing out pictures wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be.  I had no idea how many photos I had taken of churches, old houses, ocean waves, and people I didn’t know. However, I know that I just can’t throw away pictures of friends or their children and grandchildren. That will be difficult, but taking a page out of that lecturer’s playbook, some of you may soon receive some photos taken long, long ago. You throw them away!

    It’s amazing how much “stuff” we accumulate. Some of my collectables are comforting and memorable. I will keep those, but why in the world did I buy a movable frog. His eyes followed me all the way to the Goodwill bag.

    I am, however, going to keep my movable, wooden snake. I purchased it at an exhibit of Chinese art in a Museum shop many years ago. It is sitting on a fake rock in my living room. Watching the pest control guy scream and levitate three feet off the floor was worth the price of the snake. It is definitely a keeper!

    Haven’t tackled the kitchen or closets yet. That’s what’s “waiting with baited breath” is all about. I will let you in on how that goes later. Do I really need a rolling pin?

    Esther Blumenfeld

    Friday
    Sep222017

    PERIOD ROOMS NOT QUITE AS BIG AS COMMAS

    “One-of-a-kind, custom designed retreat for tall family. Ten-foot regulation ceilings, light switches in place for dramatic vaulting, MBA basketball embedded in living room fireplace, multilevel commodes, over-sized Jacuzzi, that can be converted into a garage. Sacrifice for quick sale by formerly famous retired athlete. For information, call Zelda Zigzaggle, the Million Dollar Club matchmaker of the really, really customized home”

    Some realtors specialize in homes so customized that a buyer has to be blinded by love for that particular house. They build reputations with whiz-bang ideas, and imaginative listings, that magnetically draw buyers to abnormal abodes. Their job is to convince a buyer that he really wants to be somebody else—the kind of person that fits into the house they want to unload.

    The really customized home is not an easy sell, but all a realtor needs is one buyer. For instance, Zelda proudly brags about the Andy Gustafson farmstead, now the Minnesota headquarter of the National Organization of Women.  “In 1888, Andy’s big boned daughter, Olga, gathered, lifted and cut the foundation’s boulders for the 22-room house all by herself, after pulling the family plow in the wheat field all morning. NOW liked the fact that she worked so hard to help her family, but it was the motto hammered above the front door that sold them: “Once you’ve done the groundwork, watch your buttress!”

    Several Zigzaggle houses have a historical connection. The Toll House, a simple frame saltbox in Indiana, originally served as a way station on the pioneer trail. Zelda said, “When the expressway came through the house in 1985, I convinced the new owners they could pay off their mortgage in six months. Collecting fees from the passing traffic, in their upholstered toll booth, wasn’t an inconvenience but a frontier tradition.

    A good realtor is always hustling for the next big sale, so Zelda sent this note to President Trump. “Mr. President, it’s never too early to scout out a retirement home. I have just the place for you. With your esteemed position and your history, you will feel right at home in my client’s revolving house on a pedestal. And in keeping with your domestic policy, the house turns 180 degrees every 24 hours. Well, I know you don’t want to be set adrift too soon, Mr. President, but remember that ‘Time and tide wait for no man.”’

    Zelda sold the Pendulous Mansion to a family, who decided to hang in there while their daughter moved in with them yet again until she found herself once more. She also said, “Of course I also handle homes for people with inordinately contemporary taste. Face it, most shoppers just can’t drive by a house coated with iridescent paint that glows in the dark. No fumbling around for keys at night with this one.”

    Two critical elements of real estate sales are: bagging the seller and razzle-dazzling the buyer. Also, a realtor should keep quiet when buyers and sellers accidentally meet, unless the seller puts a hammerlock on the buyer. Then the agent should say, “I hate to break this up, but we need to get to the next house before dark because the owner grows hair in funny places when the moon comes up.”

    And what about that custom home for sale by the formerly retired athlete? It turned out that a troupe of Bavarian tumblers was interested in the “tall family house.”  However, before making an offer, they needed to know how many trampolines could fit into that Jacuzzi.

    Esther Blumenfeld (Based on “Southern By Choice ” by Blumenfeld and Alpern, Column in ACCENT ON HOMES AND LIVING MAGAZINE, 1992 c. Blumenfeld)


    Friday
    Sep152017

    UP YOUR CHARISMA

    When you walk into a room does the conversation continue as if nothing significant has happened? Does the waiter skip you when passing around drinks? And when making introductions, does the hostess always go blank when she come to your face? If you answered “Yes,” to one or all of these questions, you’ve definitely got a problem. It’s high time to up your charisma.

    Charisma is that special quality that commands attention as you enter a room, that magnetism that screams out, “Here I am—-captivating, electrifying, scintillating—ME!” Some people, of course, are born with it. Some people are definitely hopeless. The great un-charismatic mass in the middle can be taught.

    There are four elements of charisma: attitude, speech, body language and friends. The Charisma Makeover is quite complicated, but the first rule is to think positively. Dejected thoughts produce poor posture. You cannot project animal magnetism while slouching. Eye contact is also important. There is nothing more disconcerting at a soiree than talking with someone whose eyes keep glancing over your shoulder. The solution is to only talk to short people. Back a short person into the wall, stand close and keep nodding. You are assured of undivided attention.

    Subtle allure is an effective charismatic style involving the adroit use of body language. Alluring persons never scratch, sneeze or mention bunions. To draw people to you magnetically, the best way is to sit down, sigh, and put your head between your knees. If no one notices this tactic, sit back and slowly begin to undress. If no one is still drawn to you, you might want to look around for a short person.

    There are two philosophies of Friend Selection among charisma educators today. The first school subscribes to the notion of surrounding yourself with other shining stars, known as Gilt by Association. Or, try  the Agnes Gooch Theory: Pick a mousy friend and you’ll fairly glow by comparison. Of course there is a drawback here: Your audience must be able to tell which one of you is Agnes.

    Here are a few more Do’s and Don’ts:

    Do dress for success. If you can’t dress for success, at least dress for trying.
    Do lean forward when talking to people, but beware that nothing personal falls out.
    Do spend five minutes each day in front of a mirror practicing your sincere smile. Then for three minutes a day work on the Empathetic Nod, the Knowing Glance and the versatile Wink-And-Grin.
    Don’t start a conversation with: “How long have you worn dentures?”
    Don’t talk about these three taboo subjects: odor-eaters, leg waxing, or bald spots.

    Finally, if all else fails, become filthy rich. Then you won’t have to learn charisma, you can just buy it.

    Esther Blumenfeld (Based on an article in ATLANTA WOMAN MAGAZINE, Feb. 1984, Blumenfeld and Alpern) c. Blumenfeld