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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
    Sep082017

    MENTAL BLOCKADES

    When my Father was 90-years-old, he telephoned me and said, “Something terrible has happened to me today.” Alarmed, I said, “Dad, what’s wrong?” He said, “I couldn’t remember someone’s name.” I told him that forgetting a person’s name happens to me all of the time, but that offered him no comfort at all, because he replied, “That does not happen to me!”

    I have a visual memory, and I have discovered that when I write a name on a sheet of paper, I can recall that particular piece of paper with the name written on it. However, when a stranger tells me his name, it usually enters one ear and exits out of the other one immediately—-especially when there are several other people involved in conversation in the room.

    There are many memory tricks that experts advise: “Repeat the person’s name as soon as you hear it.” That’s good advice, if you remember it that long. Another suggestion is: “Use association.” Associate that name with something familiar. Shakespeare might help. In Romeo and Juliet he wrote,”What’s in a name? that which we call a rose by any other name would small as sweet.” That’s okay unless you meet someone named, “Daisy,” and you call her “Rose.” Of course, Juliet mused that if only Romeo’s last name wasn’t Montague their lives would be less poisonous.

    Because I have a friendly nature and generally find people interesting, I tend to meet new folks every day. It is not only flattering, but also polite, to remember their names. I recently developed a friendship with a smart, talented woman who has a great sense of humor. I like people who laugh at my jokes! Her name is Gail. At the outset, in order to remember her name, I associated it with a former neighbor who was also named, Gail. However, she was such a trouble maker that her name should have been spelled, Gale!

    What is really embarrassing is when you forget the name of a good friend. It usually happens when you want to introduce her and say, “This is my dear friend____?” At that point, you must not exclaim, “Oh, Sh—t!” because that is definitely not her name.

    Sometimes, it helps me to work backwards by thinking of the last name first, such as “Dickens.” What the dickens was his first name? Oh, Yes! Charles. My consolation is that I always recall a name. However, it is most disconcerting when that particular name wakes me up in the middle of the night. Usually, that is the name of a famous person that I will forget immediately when I wake up the next morning.

    In the cartoon, PEARLS BEFORE SWINE, the little pig character asks the cartoonist for the name of a street. The cartoonist replies, “Gosh, I can’t believe that i can’t think of it. Guess I’m having a bit of a mental block.” Whereupon, the little pig replies, “Yours are more like mental blockades—-“

    While taking my morning walk,, I met a young woman who was walking her very nice, big dog. I remember that she had a German accent and told me that her name was “Greta.” Or, was that the name of the dog? Life can be so complicated!

    Esther Blumenfeld (“Names are a way to keep people in your mind.”) Maggie Stiefvater

    Friday
    Aug182017

    KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE BALL

    KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE BALL

    Last week, when I glanced at the Sports Page in the ARIZONA DAILY STAR, I was compelled to read an article about the Arizona Wildcats Basketball team, and their upcoming exhibition game in Spain. What drew me in was the article’s headline; “Trip not about whether Cats
    reign in Spain.” Headline writing can’t get much better than that!

    Of course, some nincompoop will write a letter to the editor complaining that the writer misspelled “reign.” If there was ever a photo, on the Sports Page, of a politician holding a big fish, I’d write a header announcing; “Everyone’s got an angle.”

    The second story on the Sports Page had this headline; “Day after win, Cards hunting for their rally cat.” Could not believe my luck reading two such clever headers. The story was about baseball, and that a stray cat had run onto the outfield at Busch Stadium, as the Cardinal bases were loaded. There were two outs and it was the 6th inning. Kansas City was leading 5-4 at the time. The game was delayed for a couple of minutes until a groundsman caught the cat. After play resumed, a grand slam was hit and the Cardinals won the game. Unfortunately a fan ran away with the cat.

    On the editorial page, I enjoyed the headline that read, “Trump and Kim are bullies with bad hair.”  I know that President Trump's sport is golf.  I don’t play golf, but I do know that golfers respect the game, play by the rules, are courteous and take care of the course.  Kind of like what it takes to be President.

    I just hope that Trump understands golf terminology.  I am sure that he knows the difference between an Approach Shot and an Explosion Shot, because if he doesn’t, it could ruin a game for the other players. Surely, he knows what a Bare Lie is, and how to keep Boundaries.
    Well, if it’s any consolation there’s always—The Bunker.

    Esther Blumenfeld  (A hole in one should be in a very small hole)

    Friday
    Aug112017

    NOT ROCKET SCIENCE

    As I get older, I have learned that it is probably futile to try to make sense out of the nonsensical. For instance twice a year, my automobile insurance company rewards me with a $25.00 check for my good driving record. As a matter of fact, this month my reward was raised to $27.00.  All was copacetic until I received the bill for my yearly premium.

    My insurance company had raised the price, and now I have to pay $120.77 more than I did last year. So, after I deduct my yearly $54.00 reward for good driving, I still have to pay $66.77 more in 2018 than I did in 2017. Consequently, I called my personable insurance agent and asked, “Why, with my excellent driving record, did the company raise my premium $120.77?”
    She replied, “Because you had a birthday.” “I had a birthday last year,” I said, “And they didn’t sock it to me then.” “Well,” she replied, “If, you are still driving in five years, the company will raise your rate again. They figure that as people get older, they are more accident prone because their reflexes slow down.”

    So, then, I said, “That’s age discrimination!” Sympathetically, she replied, “You are right, but all automobile insurance companies do that.” Feeling dejected, after my go around with my nice insurance agent, I decided to go to Trader Joe’s. That place never fails to cheer me up, and sure enough, I saw a sign that advertised, “Grass fed hotdogs.” I assume that hotdogs are now the new Miracle Grow for starving grass. Will wonders never cease?

    When I got home (sans hotdogs) my mailman delivered a letter from my Homeowners Insurance Company. It began, “Thank you for being a loyal customer. We’re happy to have you with us. Your bill should arrive in a couple of weeks.” That was the good news. The kicker came on the third page.

    “You may have noticed (you bet I did!) that we have increased your Dwelling Protection Coverage.” It’s called a Protection Insurance Adjustment (PIA) which “reflects changes in construction costs in your area.”

    Wow!  The estimated replacement cost of my home has gone up $12.00. No, I won’t call my insurance agent. She’s nice, but there’s even a limit to niceness. I would have asked my son, Josh about the nonsensical premise of this raise in premium, but the last time I asked him his opinion on an issue like this, he kindly said, “Mom, too bad it’s not rocket science, because that’s what I do.”

    I recently read a mystery book by Rex Stout called, SECOND CONFESSION. The book was just okay, but one line was memorable when the detective, Nero Wolfe, said, “You suffer from mental astigmatism.” I wish I had said that first.

    Esther Blumenfeld

    Friday
    Aug042017

    BLOODIED AND BOWED

    I was glad to read that after 11 days, Anthony Scaramucci, the President’s Communication Director , Favorite Bully and Master of Profanity is no longer in a position to play Trump’s, Game of Thorns. Scaramucci obviously had viewed his job as having the enjoyable duty to stick it to people whom the President wanted to eliminate. Anthony will not even garner a footnote in history after his inauspicious verbal poke at those in power.

    When I was a very little girl, my Father warned me about the power of words—that, “Words have meaning and weight, and everything that you say, and  everything that you do, affects other people.”

    I adapted this lesson to write the following conversation between “Papa” and “Rachel” in my play, UNDER MIDWESTERN STARS (Kansas City Repertory Theatre, 2003) and it went like this:

        Rachel

    It’s a good lesson Papa. I know that Patrick Murphy is going to watch his words from now on.

        Papa

    What are you talking about? Who is Patrick Murphy?

        Rachel

    He’s a new boy at school. He is in the fourth grade, and his Daddy works at the Army, Air Force Base, and I don’t like him at all.

        Papa

    Rachel. He is much older than you. Did this boy bother you?

        Rachel

    He called me a dirty German! I told him that I am not dirty, and that I am an American, and I closed my eyes, and I swung my fist, and I hit him on his nose, and he bled all over his shirt. Papa, I have never seen so much blood.

        Papa

    Rachel! You were in a fist fight?

        Rachel

    No, Papa! It was no fight. He cried and ran away.

        Papa

    Perhaps you should ask for his forgiveness for making him bleed. Give it some thought.

        Rachel

    I never saw Patrick Murphy again. I was sorry that I made him bleed, but I am not sorry that I hit him. I am an American girl!

    Patrick Murphy was my first experience with a bully. As I grew up, I learned to use my words to call out bullies, and I have discovered that not only are bullies cowards, but they have no sense of humor—especially about themselves. That is why ridicule works!
    A bully wants attention, wants his victim to act hurt or upset, and he wants a fight, but mostly not a physical confrontation.

    Happily in our great Democracy, besides having a free press, we also have a host of professional comedians, who can push back in the one way that bullies cannot stand—nor effectively defend themselves.

    Of course, when confronted with a bully, a person can take the high ground. As Michelle Obama said, “When they go low, we go high.” However, once in awhile, a metaphoric bloody nose really does give one pleasure.

    Esther Blumenfeld (“The big drum beats fast, but does not realize it’s hollowness”) Melay Proverb


    Friday
    Jul282017

    PANTS ON FIRE

    A man, who isn’t a “senior” was given a senior discount at the movie theatre. The next time he went to the theatre, he said to the ticket seller, “The last time I came to a movie here, you gave me a senior discount,” and he got it.  His wife admonished him, “You shouldn’t lie in front of the children.”  So, was his action subjectivity of the truth, or an “alternative fact?”

    The term “alternative fact” is attributed to Kellyanne Conway, U.S. Counsel to President Trump, but actually, the term was coined many years ago in 1949 by George Orwell, who wrote the novel 1984. The book is about a totalitarian state that creates its own language called, “Newspeak.” The purpose is to  stifle free thought by twisting the English language. For instance, the word, “Bad” becomes “Ungood.”

    Truthfully, there is no such thing as an “alternative fact.” There is fact and then there is fiction. A horse is a fact. A unicorn is fiction. If someone tells you that she saw a unicorn, she is either hallucinating, lying or has just attended a Disney movie. The problem with blurring the line between truth and lies is that you don’t know who you can trust. Groucho Marx said,”Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?”

    The story about the little boy who cried wolf illustrates that the little boy lied so many times that when the real wolf appeared, no one believed his warning. In a make believe world, “pigs can fly.”  However, when “fake news,” which is spun from a blanket of lies, enters the realm of the believable, it’s no longer a game of “let’s pretend,” and it can become very dangerous.

    Reputable journalists are required to get the facts straight. As a former journalist and contributing writer to two magazines, I know that accuracy is so important that even if you misspell someone’s name, you land in deep doo doo.

    In the good old days, a person’s word was his bond, and contracts were made with a simple handshake. Today, a person is leery of “shaking on it,” because he might not get his hand back.

    In the Japanese film,  Rashomon (1950) various characters provide alternative , self-serving and contradictory versions of the same incident, which in part exhibits the unreliability of human memory or how it can be manipulated. Sophisticated proponents of propaganda know that if a lie is repeated over and over, it will eventually be accepted, by many, as the truth.

    When dealing with a liar, it is always good to listen to what he does not say rather than what he does, because lies always spin a web of deceit and depend on recollection.  Mark Twain said, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”

    The children’s game, Telephone has no winner. It is a game where a group of people sit in a circle and the first person whispers a secret into the ear of the person sitting next to her, and then the secret is whispered on from one person to another. The last person is charged to reveal the secret which is always different than the original secret. It demonstrates the inaccuracy of rumors as they are spread. For instance, the secret might be “I wrote a verse about my cat,” and it could end up, “Someone proved that the earth is flat.”  Everyone might laugh except the one person in the group, who might like the lie so much, that he puts it on Facebook, and some people will believe his “alternative fact” that the earth is indeed flat.

    If we are lucky, these simpletons will sail toward the horizon and fall off the edge of the earth—unless they are lucky enough to hail a flying pig.

    Esther Blumenfeld (“Liar, liar, your pants are on fire, and your nose is as long as a telephone wire.)