I am sooo tired of seeing that damn flapstick package every time I check the blog, so I’m finally posting something to displace it. Have had a patch of blogger’s block lately, unable to get any entries up here for various reasons.

My solution? Display the aborted posts succinctly and explain why they weren’t used.

One

Subject: Outhouses.
Description: I wondered why outhouses seem almost universally to have crescent moon shaped cutouts on their doors.

This fanciful double-decker version is most often represented with Management and Employees signs. Some have even been built and photographed.

This fanciful double-decker version is most often represented with "Management" and "Employees" signs. Some have even been built and photographed.

Reason not used: This is apparently a common question and all of the dub-dub-dub resources providing explanations were practically the same. In fact, more than a few were verbatim replications of each other (and seem to originate from Ronald S. Barlow’s The Vanishing American Outhouse (1989). The consensus is that the moon was used on outhouses designated for women (Luna representing femininity) and that a sun or a star was used for the gents. It was apparently exceedingly common for the mens’ outhouses to fall into disrepair (or suffer abuse?) and so were abandoned and/or demolished. A cutout, no matter the shape, also provided illumination and ventilation. There were only two dissenting explanations of note. Someone suggested that it was an early anti-Islam gesture by colonial Americans (unisex outhouses apparently combined the crescent moon and star motifs, which approximates a common representation of Islam); I’m pretty sure this anomalous notion holds no water since so many Americans were illiterate at the time and probably had little or no concept of that exotic religion. Cecil Adams, he of The Straight Dope, asserts that it’s a myth perpetuated by cartoonists such as Al Capp. He does mollify his stance after a couple of user comments, then references the Barlow book.


Two

Subject: Perpetual motion device
Description: I wondered if a lamp in circuit with a really good solar panel might be a viable source of perpetual (or even near-perpetual) energy.

IKEA Sunnan lamp

IKEA Sunnan lamp

Reason not used: Seems, as with so many ideas, that scores of people have speculated on this, on the web and elsewhere. Experts agree: a resounding “how can you be so foolish?” Even with the best technology, inefficency is so great that it isn’t even close, and I get the impression that no amount of research or scientific breakthroughs will change that fact.


Three

Subject: Poetry Slam
Description: ‘Cleverly’ reinterpreting the idea of a ‘poetry slam.’

Reason not used: Too ridiculously ambitious and not workable. There was an article in the New York Times not long ago (Is Slam in Danger of Going Soft?) profiling Marc Kelly Smith, who supposedly originated the poetry slam 25 years ago. The piece describes a rise to global phenomenon, its overlap with hip-hop, those who criticize or subvert it, and so on. It also clarifies that the event held in the White House on May 12 was a jam rather than a slam.

Anyway, my flash of inspiration was to take a classic poem universally regarded as a masterpiece and insult it with a pithy rhyme, to actually slam it with another bit of poetry. Ha! Admittedly, not the most amazingly brilliant concept, but the example I thought of, a response to Shelley’s Ozymandias, gave me hope that I could work something entertaining out of it.

The poem:

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said:  “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings,
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains.  Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

The slam: “Ozymandias was a candyass.”

Unfortunately, after blundering through some of the greatest verse in the Western canon in search of slamworthy plundering, I ran out of steam and put it aside. Each time I considered taking another stab, I just gave it a sidelong glance and assured myself that tomorrow might be a better day to tackle it. Eventually I realized that I was never going to make a sincere effort (even though it isn’t unreasonable to think that there are at least a handful of good ones there, waiting to be wrought). But, alas for me, naught.

Bonus multimedia tie-in:

bimstein

“The Door” (1994)

Phillip Kent Bimstein

from the 1996 Starkland album Garland Hirshi’s Cows
All of the sounds on this composition were tape-assembled from recordings of Bimstein’s creaky studio door! It’s ten-and-a-half-minutes long, but worth a listen when you have the time. The variety and beauty are amazing. Oh, the tie-in is the door slam sounds.


Four

Subject: “Funxymorons”
Description: A variation of oxymorons.

Reason not used: Most likely tedious for both me and my Dear Reader(s). Oxymorons are concepts formed by contradictory or incongruous words (e.g. cruel kindness, jumbo shrimp, military intelligence). In my scheme, “funxymorons” are things that are either (1) things that are supposed to be funny that aren’t, or (2) things that are funny that aren’t supposed to be. Needless to say, it’s a highly subjective endeavor. I came up with a handful of entries of each variety, but felt that my choices would be too subjective and also too controversial and didn’t relish having to explain or defend them. Now undaunted, I’ll toss them out, but I ‘m telling you now that I still don’t intend to explain or defend them. They are what they are.

Things that are supposed to be funny that aren’t.
  • The Onion
  • Saturday Night Live
  • The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (yes, I wrote this some time ago)
  • Sara Vowell
  • Dennis Miller*
Things that are funny that aren’t supposed to be.
  • Fox News
  • Burning Man
  • VW peace signs
  • Dennis Miller*
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