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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.




    This morning, I read a headline on the Business Page of the ARIZONA DAILY STAR: “Whirlpool’s relationship with Sears spins to a stop.” The story said, “Sears will no longer sell Whirlpool-branded appliances, curtailing a business relationship that dates back more than 100 years.”  And, it’s all my fault!

    A month ago, my 5-year-old Whirlpool washing machine stopped spinning, and left me stuck with a tub full of wet clothes. I called my home warranty company, American Home Shield (AHS) and they sent a repairman from Sears. Before he arrived, I had to move everything out of my laundry room so he could get to the machine.

    Tech #1545 came, lifted up the machine, looked underneath and said, “Your capacitor (a device for starting an electrical charge) is lying on the floor. He picked it up, pushed it back into the washing machine, and wired it to the spot, so it wouldn’t fall onto the floor again. AHS paid $169.00 for that job.

    After #1545 left, I put all of the stuff back into the laundry room and did a load of laundry, whereupon my washing machine once again stopped spinning and left me with another load of wet clothes. A few days later, once more, I moved all of the stuff out of my laundry room, and AHS sent out Sear’s Tech #0299 who replaced a sub actuator shifter. He told me that Tech #1545 had a heart attack, shortly after he had left my home. At that, I started feeling a little guilty. Tech #0299 also told me that I was his last job before he left for vacation. This time, AHS paid $268.00. After my first experience, I had wised up a bit and did not put all of the stuff back into the laundry room, until I did another load of laundry. The machine seemed fine—until it wasn’t.

    Perhaps, the third repair would be a charm…or not!  The next day Tech #8038 came from Sears. “Hooray!” I exclaimed, when I saw a lady technician. She lifted up my washing machine with one hand, looked under it and exclaimed, “#0299 didn’t put the correct wire nuts on the capacitor wires. The wires have slipped out. No wonder the machine stopped working.” I said, #0299 is on vacation.” She said, “I think he quit.” Now I was really feeling guilty. My Whirlpool had given #1545 a heart attack and made #0299 quit his job. No wonder he seemed like such a happy fellow.

    #8038 attached the correct wire nuts and said, “Now your machine should work fine.” AHS paid $200 for the job. I trusted her and replaced all of the stuff in the laundry room. The washer did one load of laundry, and once again groaned to a halt.  When Sears informed AHS that their service department was backed up, and couldn’t send another repairman to my house for a month, My son advised, “Mom, get a new machine.” However, AHS had already scheduled, someone from “My Tech-Joe” to come fix my Whirlpool washer.

    Joe didn’t come, but sent a really conscientious young man who spent lots of time under my washing machine. He diagnosed the problem, “Machine Won’t Start.” The service performed was, “Reconnected Capacitor Wires Properly.” Once again, I was not charged. Don’t know how much AHS paid, but so far I had paid $75 for a service call, and AHS had paid $637 to repair my Whirlpool washing machine that had originally cost me $597.

    After the “My Tech-Joe” guy left, I washed 4 blankets and several loads of laundry. So far, so good, but no one really knows when a capacitor may have another prolapse, and AHS will have to call in a urologist to finish the job.

    Esther Blumenfeld



    All of us know about Sailing (as in the Americas Cup), but Sale-ing, as in garage sales, yard sales and house sales is a sport whose fans are legion, but whose games are never covered on television or in newspapers.

    The roots of Sale-ing as a sport sprouted in the Garden of Eden, when Eve, the world’s first customer, said to the serpent, the first yard sale vendor, “You expect me to pay WHAT in exchange for that apple?” It was, however, difficult for garage sales to flourish until years later when someone invented  a garage—-possibly Hannibal, who needed someplace to park his Yak out of the snow. However, it is doubtful that even Hannibal owned enough stuff to hold a garage sale, because “stuff” wasn’t invented until the Middle Ages when an entrepreneurial member of the Suits of Mail Guild had a few takers for his Male Order wares, which unfortunately tended to poke through their envelopes at inopportune times. Thus, the sport of Sale-ing didn’t really take hold until the Age of Enlightenment.

    Now, in the 21st Century, the thrill of Sale-ing has attracted many devotees to the sport. Every sport has its own language. For instance,  “Touchdown” is the favorite word in football. So, if you are considering taking up the sport of Sale-ing, it is helpful to learn the lingo. For instance, “My, you have interesting taste,” means, “I can’t believe you’d own that hideous thing.” Or, “Cousin Matilda would love that!" means “Flashy, tacky, and cheap—just like Cousin Matilda.”
    And, “It has possibility,” means, “I want it, therefore, I need it.”

    If you have questions about the works or quirks of any appliance for sale, ask the youngest member of the family selling stuff. The kid will give you the real poop. Once you are ready to haggle, and if you don’t know how to negotiate, try some of these lines to test the waters:
    “I doubt if anyone else will find a use for this item, but for the right price, I’d be willing to take it off your hands.” “I know that’s a reasonable price for that item, but I can’t afford it. Do you have a similar item that’s not that nice?” And, “If you’re asking $10 for that dish, how many do I have to buy to get them for $10?” You become a winner, if the owner flunked arithmetic in grade school.

    There are hazards with every sport, but if one indulges in Sale-ing two risks are money and time. When, as beginners, you are on a collision course of  spending too much time and money it can trigger a disease known as “Rapture of the Deep Pockets.” Symptoms are Hydrophobia (a morbid fear of rain checks) an inability to say, “No,” and an obsessive desire to fill one’s home from stem to stern with flotsam and jetsam. When your home finally overflows, and it will, you’ll know it’s time to bail out and take up Sailing. No, not Sale-ing, Sailing. And, you will finally get away from it all, and discover the joys of swabbing decks and scraping barnacles from the bottom of your boat.

    Esther Blumenfeld (Based on the column, “Southern by Choice,” ACCENT ON HOMES AND LIVING MAGAZINE, c. Blumenfeld and Alpern, 1991-1993)



    In Denmark, in the really olden days, if you wanted to read a good book, you’d find words and pictures engraved on a thin layer of bark from a newly naked birch tree. Thus, “book” comes from the Danish word, “bog,” which means birch. In 1450, Johann Gutenberg invented the printing press.  Granted, the whole venture began quite nobly with the printing of the Gutenberg Bible, but now, in the whiz-bang era of computers, the torrential output of undamned writers knows no bounds. Every year, 100,000 new books are published in the United States. Now that we are deluged with reading material, how do we choose which books to read?

    Surveyors of succinct summation to the rescue. Your friendly newspaper/magazine book reviewer—-that preparer of predictive previews for public perusal—is ready to pontificate. Since some reviews are more entertaining than the books themselves, browsing your newspaper book-review page can be time well spent, especially for people who want to appear well read without actually being so. Spending 10 minutes reading a review is certainly less stressful than flailing through a thousand-page, heavily researched book that took the author eight years to write.

    But, every book that’s out there can’t be reviewed—especially those that are self-published. Not to worry. An author can find people listed on his computer who, for the right price, will be willing to write a favorable review.

    However, getting back to newspaper reviews. Remember that praise is boring and it boosts newspaper/magazine circulation if a well-known reviewer is willing to say something loathsome. Even famous writers don’t escape the literary bounty hunter who’s gunning for a reputation and aching for another notch on his hard drive. In 1933, Max Eastman raised both hackles and circulation of the New Republic when he wrote of Ernest Hemingway: “It is of course a commonplace that Hemingway lacks the serene confidence that he is a full-sized man.” Ouch! Remember, that newspapers want to sell newspapers, not books. So it’s probably wise to take the picks and pans with a grain of salt. Publishers also buy ads promoting the books they think will sell. Usually that does not include a work of poetry. A poet will probably have to settle for a Pulitzer Prize.

    In 1977 a publisher promoted  THE NOTHING BOOK. Americans bought 300,000 copies of a book that had 192 blank pages. It was a reviewers delight. Paragraphs could be written about a book that had no words.  Perhaps, for aspiring writers, it might be prudent to skip the agony of writing real books and focus on: BOOKS THAT NEVER WERE.  Here’s a recommended list:

    —“Possessing The Secret of Scruples: Equality of Women in College Sports.”
    —“Oil Spills: Life’s Little Slippery Instruction Book.”
    —“Our Shrinking Airlines: Oh, The Places You Won’t Go.” and
    —“He Left Me For An Older Woman: The Best In Science Fiction”

    And, here’s a recommended list of book reviews that might help sell papers:

    —“Webster’s New Globe Dictionary.”  This book lacks plot, has few characters, sends mixed messages and is much too wordy.
    —“Poseidon’s Pissed Off” The author recommends 50 environmentally awakening trips along our polluted waterways. Watch the fish throw each other back at the Richard Russell Dam on the Savannah River.  More breathtaking than the author’s first book, “Sunken California: Hiking Along The San Andrea’s Fault.”
    —“The Thinning Book.”  Written on rice paper, the author claims that if you eat three pages a day, you can recycle and lose weight at the same time. ‘’Not bad when coated with peanut butter.”
    —-“The Best of The Weather: 2017 Edition.” A treasured collection of weather reports from Maine to California. Audio version available for insomniacs.
    —-“The Really Nothing Book.” An inspired literary work with no pages and no cover. For $29.95, the publisher will send a framed receipt to prove ownership. Had anyone been able to put their hands on this book, they would have read a masterpiece.

    Esther Blumenfeld



    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



    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)