National Lampoon’s Vacation Is The Best Retelling Of The Grapes of Wrath Ever

So upon further reflection upon the book The Grapes of Wrath, I realized that I liked it better when it was retold as National Lampoon’s Vacation.

What? You’re a skeptic? Listen, they’re the same exact story just in different eras and with a slightly different focus.

Joseph Campbell’s monomyth cannot account for all the similarities.

Consider:

  Grapes of Wrath National Lampoon’s Vacation
Broken down vehicle Jalopy Wagon Queen Family Truckster
Deaths on the trip Granma, Gramps Aunt Edna
Transit of dead body Mother lies with dead body overnight to escape from Arizona Aunt Edna taken to relative’s house
Encouraging strangers invite reflection Casy, the former preacher Christie Brinkley, the woman in the red Ferrari.
Danger in the Desert Inhospitable conditions Car crash
Theft Family eats peaches when picking Clark cashes a check by taking money from the motel register
Destination disappointment California closed to Okies Walley World closed
Violence at destination Tom Joad kills again Walley World guard held under gun, made to ride rides
Sequels “The Ghost of Tom Joad” by Bruce Springsteen National Lampoon’s European Vacation, Vegas Vacation, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

You see? The same story!

Trust me, I have an English degree which uniquely qualifies me to find such obvious parallels and to write about them at great length.

Footnoting My Humor, Again Again

I recently quipped, “It was my turn to prepare dinner, and I overcooked the cannibal sandwiches.”

Of course, this is a bit of obscure humor. One must be a northern person of a certain age to get it.

Cannibal sandwiches are open-faced sandwiches of raw ground beef served on rye and topped with raw onion. Or, if you cannot afford onion, onion and/or garlic powder or salt. My sainted mother was not an ethnic Pole or German, but she served us this treat on occasion. I think it’s because she didn’t like to cook.

It’s been decades, of course, since I’ve had a cannibal sandwich since everything is more dangerous these days, or at least the risk of everything is hammered so loudly that its outsized peal keeps us from so many things.

As to cannibal sandwiches, the media continues to extol its risk even into the 21st century.

But it won’t be running these stories for much longer, as people who enjoyed the dish in spite of its risk die out. Not from the deadly food, but from old age, which kills a lot of the risk-ignorant and all the risk-averse.

Oh, and by “overcooking the cannibal sandwiches,” I meant “made hamburgers.” But that was before I took a little slice of humor and tried to blow it up into a Greater Meaning as one is wont to do one one’s eponymous Web log.

Footnoting My Humor, Again

A guy I know said this on Twitter:

I responded:

Archy wouldn’t use a capital letter or an apostrophe. Nice try at making us think a cockroach had hacked your computer, though.

I was, of course, referring to Archy, a piece of schtick by The Evening Sun (NY) columnist Dan Marquis. The gist was that a cockroach would jump on the keys of Marquis’ keyboard overnight, generating different poems and bon mots and whatnots, and he would sign it -archy. Because he was hopping on the keys, he couldn’t use capital letters or punctuation that used shift keys (depending upon your model and typewriter, the apostrophe was probably a shift piece of punctuation, not like your modern keyboards).

But I’m not sure anyone else in the world would get that. That trivia is so old it does not appear in trivia nights and games any more.

Being this is the Internet, I have put this post into a form many Internet readers will understand.

Bilingual Humor

I can leer as much as I want.

Sorry, that’s incompletely translated.

Yo puedo leer tanto como quiero.

You see, leer is Spanish for “to read.”

Never mind, if you have to explain it and include a foreign language, history, philosophy, geology, or geography lesson in it, it’s probably not funny, but it quite likely is one of my jokes.

Leftover Christmas Humor

A couple years back, I was given an Elf on the Shelf for Christmas because my mother-in-law had some extra Green Bay Packers fabric, and she fashioned Packers apparel for it.

This year, instead of moving it around, I hung it on the Christmas tree.

Jeez, do I have to explain it?

It’s the Elf as Odin on the Tree of Life.

It’s less funny when I have to explain it. Which is probably not that funny to start with.

Belated Holiday Wishes

Carol of the Old Ones:

Via Hell in a Handbasket, whose proprietor is a Call of Cthulhu game master from back in the day. I did a couple games of that back then, too, including one that took place in an insane asylum, where everyone was already crazy. Also, I corresponded a bit with Lynn Willis at Chaosium, and he wanted to use a scenario I sent in in the core rules for the sixth edition. But that didn’t come to pass. After I said Chaosium should reprint some of the old Lovecraft stories, he sent me a copy of The Hastur Cycle. But I’ve probably hammered that story from those days where I fancied myself a writer over and over again.

Rogue One Spoilers! Must Credit MfBJN!

Well, not actually. I tweeted these bad dogs and thought I’d do a two-fer with the content by recycling it for you, gentle reader.

Yeah, I saw it, but I wasn’t entranced with it. I wonder if the Star Wars movies and the Marvel movies will have diminishing returns as the decades become saturated with them.

A Joke For All You Catholic Theologians Out There

I cracked myself up yesterday when reading First Things magazine with the following:

Unitatis Redintegratio is Latin for “Bless your heart.”

You see, Unitatis Redintegratio is the Vatican II decree on ecumenism, wherein the Catholic church wants to reunite the faith, and within it it says that the Catholic church is doing everything right, and other Christian denominations are doing as much right as they are aligned with how the Catholic church is doing things.

Never mind, if I have to explain the joke, it loses a lot of its funny.

Actually, I’ll have to try this on an actual Catholic theologian to find out if it’s actually funny, or if I just amused myself because I think it’s clever.

Household Tips from Brian J.: How to Do Housekeeping When You’d Rather Be Doing Hobby Stuff

You how it goes: The weekend finally gets here, and you’ve only got a few free hours before it’s back to the psycho treadmill of the week. You have a choice: You can work on something fun, like a hobby, or you can do some housecleaning.

Let Brian J. tell you how you can do both–at the same time!

I like to get out something in my hobbies–collecting (accumulating!) things–and I put it in the middle of everything.

Like when I cleaned my office the last time, I took the ill-advised long boxes of comic books (I organized my comic books and put them in long boxes like you see at comic book shops, but then I learned long boxes don’t fit onto shelves-they’re designed for tables of comic books like at comic book shops!), and I put them into the hallway so I could vacuum my office. But it is a dark hallway! So I could leave the boxes there for months! And I did.

So today, armed with some new short boxes (which fit nicely on shelves!), I did both housecleaning and hobby!

I reorganized the comics and cleaned up the hall!

So keep that in mind! Sometimes you have to make a bigger mess just to clean it up–especially if you want to spend your weekend hours most efficiently!

Now, someday I’ll do something about the other boxes in the hallway containing overflow Atari 2600 cartridges and record albums. Someday–on a weekend where I want to think I was doing housework!

Household Tips from Brian J.: The Keurig Counter Mess

Since some of the old-school bloggers are getting rich with household tip blogs, or at least are earning more than the $.50 a year I am from blog ads and book sales, I thought I’d dip my toes into the water to see if I can get some of that sweet, sweet life hack money.

First up: The Keurig Counter Mess.

If you have a Keurig single cup coffee maker (or one of the cheap knock-offs, and by “cheap knock-off”, I mean less expensive but just as good at delivering a black caffeinated water of some type for instant consumption), you might encounter a little bit of spillage at the edges. Me, I’m not sure if it’s splatter, if it’s spillage from my shaky undercaffeinated hands grabbing the coffee too quickly, or a flaw in the product design. For me, it always displays at the left side of the Keurig, which would seem to indicate it’s my right-handed coffee sweep-and-slurp motion (the topic, perhaps, a future household tip! I understand consumer writing should have many exclamation points!)

Brian J., what do you do when that black (or brownish, honestly) stain displays on your counter top?

I move the Keurig to the left an inch and a half!

PROBLEM: SOLVED THE BRIAN J. WAY!

Please let me know in the comments below what you think of my solution!

A Midwesterner’s Guide To Florida Fauna and Flora

I took a recent trip to Florida and discovered the wide diversity of nature that you find there, which frankly is wider than the diversity of the nature you find here in Missouri. It had better be because it costs a couple thousand dollars to take a family from here to there. Also, the nature found in southwest Missouri tends to run the gamut between livestock and the grass it feeds on. Except for the woods, which are dark and scary and I don’t go there often.

But in Florida, it’s always sunny except for those minutes during the afternoon where southwest Florida pulls the rain clouds and lets it rain for a little bit. I’m not sure how they figured out weather control on the west coast of Florida. Here in Missouri, if it’s going to rain, it gets cloudy and threatens rain for a couple hours, enough to make you doubt, then cancel, then reinstate your outdoor plans, then get caught in a brief shower so you pack up, only to have the scattered shower stop when you’re on your way home. Florida showers are far briefer than that mostly.

At any rate, on my trip, I saw some of the natural wonders that Florida has to offer.
Continue reading “A Midwesterner’s Guide To Florida Fauna and Flora”

I Found A Poem

Our dojo offers this shirt, which contains a poem:

A
We
So
Me
Ness

One of the knocks against Elliot Ness (of the Untouchables) was that he often took credit for other people’s work, especially in the popular culture (see the films) and in bar rooms wherever he lived. So this poem excoriates that flaw in his character. But I don’t understand why it’s on a martial arts shirt.

UPDATE: Someone has told me that this shirt is just the word “Awesomeness.” That’s an interesting theory. However, I must respectfully disagree, because I HAVE AN ENGLISH DEGREE! I KNOW A POEM WHEN I SEE IT! THIS IS A POEM, AND IF YOU WANT TO DISPUTE IT I RECOMMEND YOU SPEND TENS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS ON A MOSTLY WORTHLESS DEGREE AND WE CAN ARGUE ABOUT IT AT STARBUCKS! BEHIND THE COUNTER!

Thank you, that is all.

Back When I Did PhotoShops

Back in the olden days, I used to edit photos for humourous effect. Then, I had children and no free time. Although I have a bit more free time now, I haven’t gone back to it because the interest isn’t there, and the Internet has moved onto just putting text on a still image and calling it funny.

But for old time’s sake, here are some of my favorites from the annals of this blog.

Welcome Back, Potter:

The Harry Reid series of young adult novels:

Harry Reid's Babysitting ServiceHarry Reid's JourneyHarry Reid, Inc.

Soviet, Jedi:

All the sweet, sweet emus after the police in Carbondale shot a loose emu:

Emu in body armor Emunator Bulletproof Emu

I never claimed to be good at it. I only claim to have done it.