Category Archives: Humour

Humour

Potholes

Published by:

Blog by Steve Sobel

To the Editor:

The potholes are unbelievable this spring. I didn’t fully appreciate how unbelievable until my most recent encounter with one. I’m aware that our town Selectboard plans to propose a budget item to fund a new road repair technique promising definitive elimination of these scourges of our vehicles’ wheels and axles. The recently developed technique would be incomparably more permanent than the taconite-related methods developed in Minnesota. However I’d like to plead the case for avoiding any improvement to our current practice of pothole repair.

Cruising down the road in our town, several miles from home (as you’ll soon understand, I prefer not to identify the precise location), a route I know so well that I can drive it while pleasantly daydreaming, I was mildly annoyed by the frequent, but irregular, jarring sensations of my tires traversing medium-sized potholes. Suddenly, I was jolted out of my half-reverie by the terrifying realization that I was about to plunge into a pothole that might more appropriately be termed an abyss. Desperately slamming the brakes had about as much impact as that of a floating speck of dust in blocking a charging bull. I expected my life to flash before my eyes as I careened into this opening in the earth’s crust, but, instead, time seemed to slow down such that I observed each centimeter of my descent with an eerie awareness as I anticipated the inevitable crash.

Instead, I seemed to tumble onto a bed of welcoming pillows, inexplicably bouncing gently back upward. Dazed, I felt relief and terror wash over me simultaneously. Does an afterlife exist? Had I gone directly to Hell or purgatory? Why was I still seemingly conscious?

An angel reached toward my door handle, though she appeared more like a homely human than a celestial being.

“Don’t worry; you’ve only fallen down the rabbit hole, kind of like Alice,” she explained in a softly reassuring voice, though I remained just as shocked and confused.

I noticed a motley bunch surrounding my vehicle—a bizarre, underworld welcoming committee.

“You’ll love it here! It’s really groovy” blurted a rotund, smiling fellow with beaming eyes.

“Don’t mind him, he dropped down here in the 60s,” a tall, lanky man advised me as he chuckled contentedly.

The tall man introduced himself as Gary, a former high school history teacher, and proceeded to describe this most peculiar community which exists unbeknownst to us under the ground of our own little town. They have created several entryways connected to potholes which they can open or seal shut almost instantaneously via a Rube Goldberg contraption involving a myriad of levers, pulleys and springs. The landing spot had indeed been padded with thousands of pillows they’d imported to their subterranean abode. The inhabitants take turns standing guard as part of a scouting committee, observing people who show signs of wishing to drop out of the rat race. The sigh, the extended glance at clouds or trees…driving the beat-up car, the wrinkled shirt, driving unnecessarily slowly to work with a kayak on the roof, singing along oblivious to the world, always being late to work, early to go home and so on. They had developed an exceedingly reliable algorithm for spotting suitable candidates.

I had been making an awkward effort to avoid glancing at breasts and genitalia after noticing they were all naked. They were covered with mud so initially, it escaped my notice that they were, in fact, stark naked. But they were so natural about it, and at-ease, that my own awkwardness soon dissipated. I inquired of Gary why they wore no clothes.

“We don’t age, but our clothes do. Our bodies are impervious to the passage of time, but the fanciest dress becomes threadbare and disintegrates, elegant shoes turn to dust.”

“Wait a minute, so you’re telling me you’re immortal down here?” I asked.

“More or less. But immortality isn’t for everyone you know. Only a miniscule percentage of ‘drop-ins’ choose to stay.”

Another denizen of this netherworld, an eccentric-looking, middle-aged woman with piercing, blue eyes, Beth, expounded upon this topic: “Gravity behaves in ways Einstein never predicted when one resides underground for prolonged periods of time;  apparently the earth’s centrifugal force is impeded by infrared heat emanating from its molten core which, in turn, emits non-Newtonian waves that interact with living cells via synthesis of mitochondrial DNA and induce a hibernation-like state of entropy.”

“As a physician, your theory makes no sense whatsoever to me,” I impulsively retorted.

“Well, I’m no scientist-I used to be a librarian, but that’s how it was explained to me. It’s probably a load of bull, but it’s fun to speculate. And we have no dearth of potential explanations. Meditating is popular down here and we have an abundance of time to practice it. When the entire community meditates at once, we’re probably able to slow time to a near standstill,” opined Beth. “We like to propose outlandish theories to explain the halting of the aging process. That’s one of the favorite pastimes in the community. Some believe we’ve achieved an ability to influence the mind/body connection such that we can even extend our chromosomes’ telomeres. That might be why it seems to take some time for people’s aging process to come to a halt after they arrive here. Personally, I don’t know telomere from a telephone, but, whatever the real explanation, the fact remains, we don’t age down here.”

“Why don’t you choose to completely reverse the process and return to your youth? “

“Don’t be absurd! How could we reverse the aging process? You’re being silly now or incredibly naïve. And of course, the moment one of us goes up, their body undergoes an instantaneous aging process like The Picture of Dorian Gray, making up for all the lost time. It’s like muscle memory that gets restored.”

“What kind of nonsense are you speaking?” I exclaimed.

“Like I said, I’m not a doctor or a scientist. I just collect theories. The stranger the better as far as I’m concerned. I don’t claim it’s the truth. I accept that I only know that I know nothing. But, there’s no denying that biology behaves in ways that would be considered science fiction on the earth’s surface. For example, there are some birds that have flown down here over the years. Interestingly, shortly after they arrive here, they start flying upside down.

Beginning to wonder if I was being used as the butt of some elaborate joke, I decided to change the topic. Perhaps I’d catch them off guard with a different question, causing someone to stumble, and thus expose their discourse as nothing other than an improv theater performance.

“How do you survive down here? Like what do you eat?”

A previously reserved, contemplative fellow with an unkempt beard, named Joe Mansfield piped up. “We don’t exactly look malnourished, do we? It’s a different ecosystem down here, but a perfectly satisfactory one. We breed earthworms as a primary protein source. Think of it as miniature hotdogs but far healthier. We’ve also found some underground ponds and rivers which are well-stocked with fish. We’re not sure of the fish species, but it sure ain’t trout,” he laughed. As it turned out, his expertise, as a former Fish and Wildlife Department employee, had been invaluable in developing these food sources.

“So you live here forever, eating earthworms,” I stated dubiously. What do you with your eternity of free time?”

This query seemed to stir up some excitement in the group. Various members of the community described their passions and pursuits. Some focused on improving the design of the entryways. Others spend time on singing and creating new musical instruments for their daily concerts. It was a thriving art colony. Clay had been found in one of the underground river banks and they pointed out beautiful sculptures arranged on shelves dug into the walls of this cavern. There were frequent presentations and other teaching opportunities. They enjoyed putting on plays—sometimes comedies and sometimes exploring the meaning of existence. Indeed, philosophizing appeared to be the one endeavor they all had in common. Religion was a nonissue, but spirituality was not neglected. They had built a community temple of mud, a fantastical, inspiring structure with a cathedral ceiling and multiple reflecting pools.

“We like community but we’re actually mostly extreme introverts, believe it or not,” ventured Beth. “So we have dug passageways to isolated caves, and nooks and crannies, for solitary contemplation time. Most of our best plays have been written by members who spend a lot of time alone there. They’re among our most valued members.”

As for leadership, they seemed to have a well-functioning anarchy along with an eclectic mix of Buddhism, communism, Stoicism, and their own assorted ideals suitable for a relatively spartan lifestyle. All property was shared.

“You’ve established a utopia here,” I blurted out. “Does anyone ever leave?” I was wondering if I should consider myself a captive or an incredibly fortunate discoverer.

“It’s a good gig for the right person,” Gary stated with humility. “There are lots of reasons for returning to the above ground world. Of course, the main one is people want to be with their families. We don’t open the entryway to children, but we’ve had a few surprises—children sleeping in the backseat of the car and so forth. It wouldn’t be ethical to make the decision for them to stay here so we send them back. We find that couples don’t mesh well with the community structure. Sometimes couples form down here, but they’ve always opted to return to the surface world. Those who are goal-oriented and super-ambitious seldom choose to stay. Overall, 95% of drop-ins go back up, but swear to secrecy. Most don’t want to acquire a reputation of being crackpots. Look what happens to people who claim to have seen aliens. Then again, those folks are crackpots or maybe just really good at dissociating. Most of us who’ve stayed had lost our loved ones through tragedies or were just solitary figures for one reason or another.” He leaned closer, whispering in my ear, “Beth’s entire family died in a house fire for example.”

Over decades, this group of underground survivors had grown to 36 souls. Some had stayed even though they knew they’d been reported as missing persons to the police. A few went so far as to stage their own deaths if they were determined to never resurface. Several undergrounders who’d been here when young and chosen to go above ground, returned after losing all their loved ones. They came back here opting for immortality, but immortality as a primary motivation for choosing this life was surprisingly rare. A few coped by leading a dual life—telling family they’d moved to a foreign country or across the country and visiting often, though difficulties arose in responding to family members’ requests  to visit them in turn. These double-lifers were the ones who brought back news-not to mention special desserts for which some still craved. Others gave them letters to send to their families when they visited the above ground. Clearly only certain types were suited for the long haul.

“We knew you’d be intrigued, and appreciate this place, but, ultimately, would choose to continue your above ground life. It’s obvious you love your life above ground. We had another purpose in bringing you here. We’ve gotten word of the town’s plan for the extraordinary pothole repair method. Our entryways would no longer function if this transpires. The pothole repair program would pose an existential threat to this unique community. We’re hoping you’ll speak out against it. We figure you’re a respected member of your community so people might listen.”

So I too have sworn secrecy regarding the exact location of the pothole entryway to the underground community. However, the community has voted to allow me to share the fact of its existence given its dire situation. This advanced pothole repair method would seal off the underground community from the world forever and ensure their demise. Let progress wait a bit so that habitats can be preserved and life can continue to thrive in surprising ways.

I request that the honorable Selectboard members of our town refrain from definitively resolving the pothole problem. Who knows what other utopian worlds might be forever sealed off if we were to employ this new technology?

River Styx, M.D.

THE END

 

Humour Satire

PERSONA – the new miracle drug

Published by:

Blog by Richard Heagy

Who needs ‘big pharma’ anyway? A hitherto unknown pharmaceutical company incorporated in one of the lesser-known tax haven islands in the Coral Sea (east of Australia) today filed an application with the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approval of its new drug PERSONA. Extracts from the filing are as follows.

 

BENEFITS: Relief for persons with irritable personalities. Does everyone think that you are a jerk—even your own mother? Our new miracle drug will make you as lovable as a cute panda.

 

INGREDIENTS: Panda urine extracted from the bark of pine trees where pandas have relieved themselves, combined with three common herbs frequently found in your kitchen.

EDITOR’s COMMENT: Although naming the herbs is not likely to allow you to replicate PERSONA, disclosure might give the impression that the new miracle drug was excessively priced.

 

SIDE EFFECTS (also sometimes called severe adverse reactions):

Bladder pain

Blindness (usually temporary)

Bloating

Blurred vision (no worse than after a few too many drinks)

Constipation (you have probably had this before anyway)

Dizziness

Frequent craving to eat bamboo shoots (avoid using chopsticks in Chinese restaurants)

Itching (could be anywhere or everywhere)

Loss of balance (more common with left-handed persons)

Nausea (stay close to the toilet)

Numbness (usually in the feet and nose)

Rash (sometimes resembling a Spotted Sandpiper or similar bird, but the spots are red)

Risk of falling and bone fractures (try to land on your ass, not your hands)

Shortness of breath

Vomiting (carry a large plastic bag while taking PERSONA)

EDITOR’s COMMENT: If you carry a plastic bag while walking your dog, don’t forget to bring an extra bag for yourself.

 

OTHER SIDE EFFECTS:

Farting during sex

THE END

 

Humour Satire Sketch

French Incivility Brigade vs Dog Poop Street Art

Published by:

Blog by Richard Heagy

The hearings of the Committee on Legal Affairs, on recommendation of the Working Group on Copyright, take place in one of the EU’s modern cost-is-no-object buildings, with ceilings in the lobby so high that Michelangelo could never have painted murals on it unless he wore an oxygen mask and learned to levitate. The hearings today are being held in one of the smaller rooms of the cost-is-no-object building as not all members of the Committee on Legal Affairs are scheduled to be present.

Two members in long black robes with white wing collars are seated on a dais, three steps—not a mere one or two steps—above the floor in the small but well-appointed meeting room. Their shoes, no doubt expensive, are hidden from view by a long mahogany piece of furniture, similar to a long bench or credenza, which curves at an angle of 10 mm per 10 cm of length—the same as the maximum EU curvature rules allow for Class I cucumbers.  The EU flag flies from a pole at either end of the dais.

Their serious faces cast an impression that they have been frozen in time, possibly waiting for Doctor Who to appear. Actually, they are waiting for the third member—the Chairman—to arrive before they begin. In front of the dais are several rows of chairs, divided by a wide aisle in the middle. An usher walks up and down the aisle, quietly offering peanuts or popcorn for three Euros; beer is 6 Euros. The members are not happy about this, but it was one of the conditions of the vendor for selling his shop and small piece of land to the EU.

A Page enters, dressed similar to the Swiss Guards at the Vatican, and blows a trumpet.

PAGE: All rise.

(Everyone stands as the CHAIRMAN enters. The PAGE walks to a small stand, pushes a button and the national anthem of the EU starts rolling. The CHAIRMAN puts both hands to his head in agony)

CHAIRMAN: Turn that thing off. I have an awful hangover…I mean headache. No offence to Schiller or Beethoven, but I do not need ‘Ode to Joy’ this morning, not after last night.

(The music stops. The CHAIRMAN takes his place the centre of the dais and the PAGE tells those in the audience to be seated)

VICE-CHAIRMAN: It looks more like a hangover.

CHAIRMAN: Last night I violated one of most important principles of civilisation.

VICE-CHAIRMAN: Which one?

CHAIRMAN: Never drink cheap wine.

VICE-CHAIRMAN: You drank cheap wine? I am appalled.

CHAIRMAN: It was not my fault. We had guests over last night and one of them brought a cheap bottle of wine, the name of which I would never utter in your presence.

VICE-CHAIRMAN: I certainly hope not, but why did you drink it?

CHAIRMAN: My wife opened the bottle, filled the glasses and passed them around before I could say anything. I had no choice.

VICE-CHAIRMAN: There is always a choice.

CHAIRMAN: Not when your brother-in-law brings the wine. Unfortunately, he is above even the slightest criticism in our house; I have to pretend to be nice to him when he visits.

VICE-CHAIRMAN: That must be difficult.

CHAIRMAN: Not really; I took several acting lessons some time ago.

(The PAGE departs and is replaced by the CLERK, dressed in a dark suit, much like a funeral director )

CHAIRMAN (to the CLERK): What is the first item on today’s agenda?

CLERK: There is a conflict between the recently introduced French Incivility Brigade and the rights of street artists, one in particular. That is all I know, being a lowly civil servant and not privy to the documents filed in this matter.

CHAIRMAN: Well, I have not seen them either. Are representatives here to represent all of the stakeholders who have an interest in this matter?

CLERK: Yes—the injured party and representatives of the French Incivility Brigade, Paris street artists, the French Patrolmen’s Association, and Professor Mockingbird, a copyright expert and author of Soft Sculpture and Copyright.

CHAIRMAN: Call the first witness.

CLERK: First witness, representing the French Incivility Brigade.

CHAIRMAN (to BRIGADE WITNESS): Can you explain what the French Incivility Brigade is?

BRIGADE WITNESS: Yes, Your Excellency.

CHAIRMAN: That sounds nice, but Your Chairmanship will do.

BRIGADE WITNESS: A little history, if I may?

CHAIRMAN: Be brief.

BRIGADE WITNESS: Of course. Several years ago Paris had a fleet of Motocrottes, but …

VICE-CHAIRMAN (interrupting): What is a Motocrotte?

BRIGADE WITNESS: A motorised pooper-scooper, used to pick up dog poop. They were expensive and later abandoned after it was determined that they were only collecting about 20% of the dog shit on the streets of Paris.

COMMITTEE AVOCAT: I got here on time to hear about dog shit in Paris?

BRIGADE WITNESS: There are more important issues involved.

COMMITTEE AVOCAT: I certainly hope so.

BRIGADE WITNESS:  Paris has recently established an Incivility Brigade of about 2,000 security agents to hand out warnings and fines to those who commit antisocial behaviour. They will be uniformed and armed with teargas spray and wooden-handled truncheons.

COMMITTEE AVOCAT: So, they are going to deal with bank robbers, jewellery store heists and other serious crimes.

BRIGADE WITNESS: Not exactly. They are going to track down and punish men who urinate against walls in public, litter-bugs who toss cigarette butts on the street and dog owners who do not clean up after their dogs poop on the sidewalk.

VICE-CHAIRMAN: I do not understand how this involves the EU.

BRIGADE WITNESS: The legality of the Incivility Brigade has been challenged by certain street art groups and artists in Paris. Artists in other parts of Europe are likely to encounter similar problems.

VICE-CHAIRMAN: That is an odd one; I would have thought that the dog owners in Paris would be the ones against it.

BRIGADE WITNESS: There have been some demonstrations but no legal action… well, only one.

CHAIRMAN: Please explain, but be brief.

BRIGADE WITNESS: The Mayor was finishing lunch at his favourite outdoor café and an angry dog owner approached him and complained about the new Incivility Brigade. One of the Mayor’s aides stood and told the dog owner to leave or he would be arrested; then stamped his foot to scare off the dog, sat and asked for the bill. Unnoticed by the Mayor or his aide, the dog made a deposit under the Mayor’s chair before running off. After the bill was paid, the Mayor slipped in a pile of dog shit when he got up to leave. A nearby policeman was called to chase after the dog owner and arrest him.

CHAIRMAN: We need to move along. Who is next?

CLERK: The representative of the French Patrolmen’s Association.

CHAIRMAN (to ASSOCIATION WITNESS): Are you here in support of the Incivility Brigade?

ASSOCIATION WITNESS: Not at all. We are against them.

CHAIRMAN: Please explain.

ASSOCIATION WITNESS: We are all in favour of cleaning up crime in Paris, even cigarette butts.

CHAIRMAN: Not dog shit?

ASSOCIATION WITNESS: No. First, Parisians love their dogs and are extremely unhappy with the Incivility Brigade; they will express their anger at all law enforcement officers, including us. Second, it is easier to catch criminals engaged in street crime when they slip on dog shit. We have special non-skid boots, so it is not a problem for us.

CHAIRMAN: Thank you for your insight; you are excused.  Is there someone here to represent the street artists?

STREET ARTIST WITNESS (standing): Right here.

CHAIRMAN: What do street artists have against the activities of the French Incivility Brigade?

STREET ARTIST WITNESS: Their enforcement actions will in some cases violate the protections of street artists under copyright laws.

CHAIRMAN: Such as?

STREET ARTIST WITNESS: The right to integrity—not to have your work altered, or the right to reproduce and sell your work—which disappears if your work is removed or destroyed by overzealous officers.

COMMITTEE AVOCAT: Have there been any cases of street art being removed or destroyed?

STREET ARTIST WITNESS: Yes. We brought a victim—the person who filed the initial complaint.

CHAIRMAN: Very well, next witness.

(The next witness is a dog owner, but not the one arrested by the Mayor)

DOG OWNER: I live in Paris in the 20th Arrondissement, where street art is encouraged, at least if it is on a wall.

COMMITTEE AVOCAT: Where is yours?

DOG OWNER: On the ground.

COMMITTEE AVOCAT: Be more specific—the sidewalk, the pavement?

DOG OWNER: On the sidewalk, but either would qualify for copyright protection. An idea or artistic expression, such as street art, requires basically no creativity, but it must be fixed in some tangible form to be protected under copyright laws.

VICE-CHAIRMAN: We all know the basic principles of copyright law. Why are you here?

DOG OWNER: Because the EU has been revising its rules to provide harmonization of copyright law throughout the 28 member nations. Criminal and copyright laws are in conflict in France; now it the time to sort this out and provide uniformity throughout the EU.

CHAIRMAN: Proceed, if you must.

DOG OWNER: The French Incivility Brigade destroyed one of my sculptures and gave me three fines.

CHAIRMAN: You are talking about street art, correct?

DOG OWNER: Yes. The first fine was for my dog pissing on a fire hydrant. I did not challenge that because the dog piss just went down into the gutter instead of creating anything in a fixed form. Next, my dog started walking away and the officer yelled at him. The poor thing was so scared that he made an extra big poop on the sidewalk. I lit a cigarette to calm down, looked at the poop and could not believe what I saw. It looked very much like a face, with an uncanny resemblance to the officer. I started laughing and stubbed out my cigarette. Then I stuck the butt in the dog shit just where the mouth should be.

COMMITTEE AVOCAT: I bet that went over well with the officer.

DOG OWNER: He gave me a fine for dog litter and another for the cigarette butt. When I refused to clean it up he shoved me with his truncheon and I stumbled onto the dog shit, destroying my street art.

VICE-CHAIRMAN: I believe that there is a case pending in the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit—Naruto vs Slater—which involves the question of whether or not an animal may be a copyright owner. If we adopted such a rule in the EU, your dog would own the copyright, not you, in the event that this particular dog poop constituted an artistic expression in fixed form. On the other hand, you might be the author of the dog poop face if you directed your dog where and when to shit, also taking into account your placement of the cigarette butt.

COMMITTEE AVOCAT: Let me interject. Depending on the consistency of the dog poop, it may be in fixed form only temporarily; and thus not entitled to copyright protection by anyone.

DOG OWNER: I would like Professor Mockingbird to testify on that point.

COMMITTEE AVOCAT: Professor, do you have a first name?

PROFESSOR MOCKINGBIRD: Yes, but I prefer not to say it.

COMMITTEE AVOCAT: I am afraid we need it for the record if you are going to testify.

PROFESSOR MOCKINGBIRD (in a soft voice): Elmo.

COMMITTEE AVOCAT: Professor, could you please speak up?

PROFESSOR MOCKINGBIRD (louder): Elmo.

(Everyone in the committee room starts laughing, until silenced by the CHAIRMAN)

COMMITTEE AVOCAT: I am sorry to hear that, but what are your qualifications?

PROFESSOR MOCKINGBIRD: I am the author of Soft Sculpture and Copyright, available in either French or English. If you would care to buy a copy, it is available online from Amazon and other booksellers. I am also a guest lecturer on the topic of street art at many universities throughout Europe.

COMMITTEE AVOCAT: My understanding is that for purposes of copyright law, a work is considered to be fixed when it is embodied in a tangible, stable and concrete form. Works that are transitory in nature are not protectable under copyright law as they are not fixed. Would you not agree with that, Professor?

PROFESSOR MOCKINGBIRD: Yes, as to dog piss, but not as to street art in the form of soft sculpture.

COMMITTEE AVOCAT: Would you care to define soft sculpture.

PROFESSOR MOCKINGBIRD: Street art is typically painted on a wall, on the side of a building or sometimes on the pavement. Soft sculpture is often attached to something, such as a building or a park bench, but can be placed on the ground or pavement. Although soft sculpture typically is made from rubber, latex or cloth, there is no reason why soft sculpture cannot consist of dog shit.

COMMITTEE AVOCAT: How can dog poop on the sidewalk be deemed to be in fixed form? It is transitory, ready to be swept away or washed away in the rain.

PROFESSOR MOCKINGBIRD: That is not necessarily so, especially in the non-rainy season. Once in fixed form, copyright attaches, even though the creation may subsequently be destroyed. For example, suppose I write a lecture on a piece of paper, read it to an audience and then destroy the paper; my copyright continues.

VICE-CHAIRMAN: Professor, are you sure that you want your lecture notes to be compared with a pile of dog shit?

PROFESSOR MOCKINGBIRD: Never mind.

CHAIRMAN: The EU has received more than enough criticism over the volume of its directives and regulations.  We do not need to add dog shit to the list. Hearing adjourned.

CLERK: All rise. Watch your step when you leave the building.

THE END

 

Humour Satire

We are busy assisting other customers…

Published by:

Blog by Richard Heagy

TYPICAL PHONE EXPERIENCE:

Please listen carefully as our menu may have changed from the last time you attempted to contact us. We are experiencing unusually high volume and are busy assisting other customers. [Interpretation – The Company is too cheap to hire enough help to answer calls without long wait times.]

If you believe that, please press 1.

Thank you for selecting 1. You will now be added to our telemarketing list, which we sell to others in order to increase net income.

Please stay on the line and we will get to you as soon as possible.

Please press 2 if you need to take a piss while you wait; we will place your call on hold for a minimum of three minutes. If you need more time, please press the number of additional minutes, followed by the pound sign. If you have difficulty pissing, give yourself enough time.

Please press 3 if you need to take a crap while you wait; we will place your call on hold for a minimum of ten minutes; if you are full of shit and need more time, please press the number of additional minutes, followed by the pound sign. We hope everything comes out all right. If not, try eating some prunes before you call us back.

Please press 4 if you need to fart, as our staff members, though low-paid, are sensitive and refined persons not used to hearing crude sounds. Your call will be placed in a special holding pattern until you return to waiting by pressing the pound sign. In the case of multiple farts, we will give you sufficient time to open your window and press the pound sign before disconnecting you.

Please press 5 if you are an impatient person and we will disconnect your call after 60 seconds as we do not wish to add to your anxiety. You might want to consult a doctor about your condition before you call us again. Good luck and Happy Groundhog Day.

Please press 6 if you would like us to call you back one of these days. Hopefully it will be during your lifetime, but if you live in a retirement community who knows?

Please press 7 if you would not like to listen to music while you wait. We have a new song each day, which repeats over and over, and it is likely that you will have the lyrics memorised by the time we get to you.

Thank you for selecting 7. You will now hear endless advertisements while you wait, and if you wait long enough, you may hear something of interest to you.

Please press 8 if you would like to return merchandise. You should have your address, credit card number and order number ready.

Thank you for selecting 8. Unfortunately this option is no longer available.

Please press 9 if you would like to return to the main menu.

Thank you for selecting this option. You will now be disconnected. Have a nice day.

NOTE: If you call back, the line will be busy.

 THE END

Humour Satire

Wrong Writing

Published by:

Blog by Bruce Costello

Even on sunny days, the former Sunday School Hall behind St Jebusiah’s Church seems to languish in shade. The community groups who rent it at fifty cents an hour complain about its airlessness and musty smell. A tradesman is said to be coming to open the windows, stuck shut when the building was painted years ago.

Inside, the carpet is threadbare, the wallpaper dangles in sad strips and the curtains are stained with mould. Hanging askew on one wall is a print in faded blue shades of a young Princess Elizabeth.

Against a lopsided bookcase leans a dust-covered brass plaque with a list of illegible names, and the inscription, barely discernible under green patina: “They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.”

The Disciplinary Court of the Eastland Writers’ Group is in session. The Jury, made up of writing students and lecturers wearing berets and body piercings, sits on pews around the walls. Seated at the end of a long table, the Presiding Judge, Catriona von Loeven, opens proceedings. She is a bulky woman who looks like she’s wearing opportunity shop clothes, aged somewhere between thirty and fifty- five, with a mane of red hair and narrow green eyes.

She peers at an elderly gentleman in a pin-striped suit at the other end of the table. He is small, and looks cold, sitting with his shoulders screwed up.

“Victor John Watson,” Catriona says, frowning. “In accordance with the disciplinary procedures laid down in Section Two of the Constitution of the Eastland Writers’ Group, of which I am the duly elected President, you have been summoned to answer a serious allegation.”

She taps the table with the blunt end of a ballpoint pen. “Secretary Gary Carson will now read the charge.”

She turns to a white-faced young man wearing a decrepit mauve beret, seated at her right. He has a lengthy nose with a ring through it and insipid eyes.

Secretary Gary stands, clears his throat, casts a withering look towards the defendant, and begins to read in a high-pitched monotone, like a priest chanting some incantation.

“Victor John Watson! You are hereby charged with apostasy in that, in defiance of Group Teaching, you deny that Clever Style is the Supreme Element in writing and blasphemously ascribe primacy to meaning.”

Victor mutters something, not quite inaudibly, and Gary’s face turns bright red.

Catriona flings back her head, like a lioness, and roars at the defendant: “How dare you! These are serious matters involving heresy! As Presiding Judge, I remind you they are punishable by disfellowshipping or excommunication. Do you understand the charge?”

“No, Your Worship.”

“Do you plead guilty or not guilty?” Catriona continues, her voice growling with menace.

“How can I, if I don’t understand, Your Highness?” Victor raises a hand to his clean-cut face, as if to hide his expression.

Catriona slams her fist on the table, narrows her eyes and addresses the Jury.

“I ask members of the Jury to note that the mendacious defendant’s so called inability to understand was deemed passive-obstructivistical by the committee members appointed to counsel him towards literary contrition.”

The Jury nods.

“Objection, Your Honour!” cries the Counsel for the Defence, a whiskery individual looking somewhat like a leprechaun in a green corduroy jacket and bicycle-clipped trousers, perched on a stool beside the accused. “It stands to reason that the defendant must be either stupid, or mentally ill, or both, and his “inability to understand” should be acknowledged by the court as a genuine handicap.”

“Objection overruled! That’s bullshit.” Catriona turns to the Prosecuting Counsel, a woman with close-cropped hair wearing a stained denim jacket and boots that make her look like she’s about to go fox hunting. “Present the evidence, please, Lana.”

Lana rises from her seat at the President’s side, takes a magazine from the top of a large pile on the table before her and waves it at the Jury.

“This magazine bought in a supermarket,” she says, spitting out the words, “and numerous others of its ilk, collected as evidence, contains short stories written by a certain…a certain Sarah Gibbs!”

She clasps a hand to her mouth.

“Take your time,” soothes President Catriona. Lana slumps into her seat and dry retches into a paper bag while the courtroom waits. After a few minutes, she stands up, eyes lowered as if she can’t bear to look at the defendant, then runs from the room.

President Catriona rises. Hands clasped behind her back, she approaches the accused, lowers her face to his and rasps: “Is it not true that you have been writing furtively under the name of Sarah Gibbs?”

Victor looks away.

“And is not true that the stories of Sarah Gibbs, or should I say Victor Watson, are devoid of stylistic innovation, that they lack beauty and lyricism, that they are, in fact, completely devoid of those linguistic elements showing the Love of Words which is the hallmark of Clever Style, the pursuit and honouring of which constitutes the sole purpose of the Eastland Writers’ Group?”

“I don’t understand, Your Worship.”

“Don’t understand? How very, very convenient!” Catriona shakes her head, glancing towards the Jury. “What do you understand?”

“Well, it’s like this, Your Honour. I just write about ordinary folks with ordinary life problems. I write simply, so people can know what I mean.” He pauses and looks down, shyly. “I like to think my stories help people to think meaningfully about their lives.”

“Oh, you do, do you! Who do think you are? Anton Chekhov?”

The Jury members chuckle loudly.

“That old seagull!” someone calls out from the back of the room and the floorboards resound with the stomping of feet.

“What’ve you got to say for yourself?” Catriona shouts at Victor, as the din dies down.

“Nothing. I just think writing’s about people, not about words.”

“Excuse me, may it please the court,” butts in the Counsel for the Defence, stroking his whiskers down both sides towards a pointed chin. “In defence of the accused, I’d like to point out that he has, unfortunately, never been to a Clever Writing School and isn’t up with Latest Thinking.”

“Irrelevant!” cries Catriona. “And another thing! Do you get paid for these pathetic so called stories you’ve had published?”

“Yes, Your Honour. Eight hundred dollars each. That’s forty thousand dollars for the fifty I’ve had published so far.”

A hush falls upon the courtroom. A blowfly is heard, trapped in a spider’s web against a window pane. It extricates itself and careens around the hall, then crash lands, spinning upside down on the table in front of Catriona, who appears not to notice. Her mouth has dropped open and she is staring at Victor, wide-eyed.

A few minutes pass. Secretary Gary clears his throat twice, jolting Catriona back into the room. She looks around, a burgeoning smile on her face, then rises and bows towards Victor. “Thank you, Mr Watson, for giving freely of your time to assist the group to work through these misunderstandings. Now that they’ve all been nicely cleared up…”

Gary tugs at her sleeve and whispers: “You must address the Jury, Madam!”

“Do I have to?” she hisses back at him.

“Indeed.”

She turns to the Jury. “Members of the, um, Eastland Writers. In view of the fact that our esteemed colleague, Mr Watson, has raised the profile of the group through his recent successes, which he achieved despite never having been to a Clever Writing School, and in recognition of his devotion and compassion towards ordinary people, for whom he writes in a clear and helpful manner which, as he so modestly noted, assists them to think meaningfully about their lives, I propose that we award Mr Watson the great honour of Life Membership of the Eastland Writers’ Group in the sure confidence that he will continue to associate and share freely with us from his, ah, wealth of experience and knowledge.”

Victor buttons up his suit jacket with deliberation, and quietly puts on his hat. Saluting the courtroom with one finger, he leaves, slamming the door so hard behind him, it parts from its rusty hinges and crashes through the floorboards.

Outside, the sun beams down from the spring blue sky and a warm breeze rustles in the trees. Victor takes off his hat and jacket and walks home, whistling.

The following week, he buys the Sunday School Hall from the Church. With help from community agencies, local businesses and volunteers, he restores the building to its former glory and establishes New Zealand’s first free Neighbourhood Therapeutic Writing Drop-in Centre.

The Eastland Writers’ Group disintegrates and Catriona von Loeven absconds with the funds.

THE END 

PUBLICATION NOTE: Wrong Writing was previously published online in 2015 on Fiction on the Web.

Humour Play

Team Player

Published by:

Blog by Richard Heagy

ACT 1

(The scene opens in the interior of a modest office of a long-time partner in a professional firm in the Northeast. The firm has recently merged with another firm, and there have been several changes, as is usually the case. SUPER BOSS, much younger than anyone else in the firm, pulls open the door to LONG-TIME PARTNER’s office and stands in the doorway)

SUPER BOSS: I want to see you in my office now.

LONG-TIME PARTNER: I’ll be right there.

(Super Boss takes a few steps inside, places hands on hips and glares at LONG-TIME PARTNER)

SUPER BOSS: I mean now.

LONG-TIME PARTNER: I just need to…

SUPER BOSS: Right … now. Drop everything.

(He stands with his cup of coffee in hand; then walks to the waste paper basket, drops it inside, but instead it hits the rim and spills on the floor)

LONG-TIME PARTNER: Shit.

(He picks up the cup and carefully places it in the waste basket)

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