This just in from Mark! He has uncovered the mystery of the Ancients!

“I actually know the punch line of that joke...my uncle is greek and that ditty has been passed down lovingly from generation to generation...usually at holiday time. "Seeing a eunuch, an Abderite asked him how many children he had. The eunuch replied that he had none, since he lacked the means of reproduction. Retorted the Abderite …you can have as many as you like…you just have to give them candy first" in the original version the word "pasteli" was used instead of candy but it has been updated over the years.”


Between the ages of six and fourteen, I amassed a rather large collection of yellowing vintage Mad Magazine books and dumb joke collections. My mother started me on this collection to keep me from complaining during her long "sale-ing trips" (garage sale-ing). I took to it instantly. I didn't really understand the humor of the 60's-topical Mad Magazine satires or appreciate the social deviance of the 1950's collections of Helen Keller jokes, but I read each book cover to cover. To this day I have a weakness for moldy garage sale novelty books and I love to think about the history of The Joke. What sort of jokes can withstand time and cultural barriers? My father has proven time and time again that jokes from his day (50's England) just aren't funny anymore. On the other hand, my Hungarian friend Andras told me the following translated joke from his childhood in Budapest and I think that it is quite relevant:

There was a head -- no body, just a head. It was his birthday so he rolled into the kitchen to open his present. He rolled into the chair and his mother handed him a box that he opened. "Hat again, NO!!!!" (This is how Andras told it, I swear.)

But what about ancient jokes? The earliest existing jokebook, the Philogelos, dates back to 4th Century C.E. Greece. It contains 264 jokes, none of which are Helen Keller jokes. Here are a few examples:

'How shall I cut your hair?' a talkative barber asked a wag.
'In silence!'

A scholastikos was on a sea voyage when a big storm blew up, causing his slaves to weep in terror. 'Don't cry,' he consoled them, 'I have freed you all in my will.'

'I had your wife for nothing,' someone sneered at a wag.
'More fool you. I'm her husband, I HAVE to have the ugly bitch. You don't.'

A recent New Yorker article by Jim Holt surveys the history of jokes. Holt has this to say about a Philogelos joke that will be unfunny indefinately:

"The most haunting joke in the Philogelos, however, is No. 114, about a resident of Abdera, a Greek town whose citizens were renowned for their foolishness: "Seeing a eunuch, an Abderite asked him how many children he had. The eunuch replied that he had none, since he lacked the means of reproduction. Retorted the Abderite . . ." The rest is missing from the surviving text, which goes to show the strange potency of unheard punch lines."

A few more from the Philogelos.

Ukiah thinks this Ebay auction is funny.

Jason thinks the 50 Worst Artists In Music History is funny.


I have so much to say about weird shit I overheard on the bus and things I read in The New Yorker, but it’s already late-o’clock.
Here’s something that doesn’t take much effort:
New photos here from David Waldorf’s visit to the Tingle Tangle.

I just can't stop uploading pirate pictures to my blaaarrrrrrrrggggggggggg.


The Bride and Doom Entry:

Today in the break room, while I was desperately trying to assimilate calories in the form of a huge eggplant sandwich in the ten minutes I had allotted for lunch, I notice two of my floor’s better looking “Team Members” sitting together at a table near the window. It took me a few minutes to realize this, but it soon became apparent from their silence, glaring, and exasperated facial expressions that they were involved in some sort of romantic entanglement. Only love would make two people hate each other enough to sit through that stilted, prolonged uncomfortable silence. I was shocked to see the slight outline, the specter if you will, of passion in the office break room. It ruined my lunch.

By now you’ve probably all heard about that fate of Weird Al’s parents. Today, he’s posted this statement regarding his plans to continue with his concert tour. The statement is well thought-out and well written, but the work-a-holic sentiment is a serious letdown from my childhood hero. Sometimes the laughter has to stop. Sometimes it’s time to take off the checkered Vans.

Speaking of dead, earlier, I had the uncontrollable urge to quote They Might Be Giants’ “Mink Car” to someone in an email:

"I got hit by a mink car
Hit by a mink car
Driven by a guitar
And the silver shepard says
That it's all in your head
When you're 24 karat dead"

The line “24 karate dead” is one that repeats on endless loop in my head fairly often. Sometimes I like to assess a situation and decide if I’d rather be dead or 24 karate dead, etc. So today, after inflicting these mink lines on the aforementioned Someone, I Googled for where such a concept of 24 karat dead came from. Lo and behold…it was the title of an episode of the 1980's Mickey Spillane-inspired show “Mike Hammer.” I’ve never seen an episode, but you have to check out these episode titles. They are pure gold:

Merchant of Menace
Bride and Doom

Speaking of pulpy matters, Mark referred me to a very cool graphic designer/photographer’s site today. Check out Richie Fahey’s neo-retro.

Speaking of slab-happy, If anyone happens to be in Alameda Thursday night and in the mood for some German fare, David will be playing a show at Speisekammer. Fresno veteran Nino Moschella too!
Here’s the info:
A Thursday night (April 15) -- acoustic series at Speisekammer:
Nino Moschella
David Copenhafer
Helene Renaut (Beam)
Music at 9pm- Free!
2424 Lincoln Ave - (510) 522-1300


LA City Beat has just published an article on Adam Parfrey of Feral House Press and Richard Metzger of Disinformation. I didn’t know much about Metzger before, but he certainly seems to be fighting the good fight with healthy doses of conspiracy theory and occult references.
The LA City Beat reporter does a near adequate job describing the splendor of Parfrey’s Feral House house as a “bijou Silver Lake Castle Dracula.” I would say it’s more along the lines of Herr Satan’s Ski Chalet. I wonder if he’s subletting any rooms.
In honor of The Passion of The Christ, Feral House has re-released TORTURES AND TORMENTS OF THE CHRISTIAN MARTYRS, which includes this handy guide: "On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ," the detailed forensic investigation that inspired Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ.

Ok, so I got rid of the “Notify” service because it really wasn’t doing any of us any good. I have replaced it with an “Upcoming Stuff of General Interest” list, which you can see if you direct your eyes to the right side of the screen. It is there mostly to remind me to go to all of the great things that are happening all the time, but please feel free to send me events to list there…and I might actually remember to go.


A kool friend of a kool friend is putting a pilot together for a new behind-the-scenes documentary-style television show and asked me to host it! Friday and Saturday were spent shooting at a newspaper printing plant and shouting interview questions over the 95 decibel roar of the press. We saw some truly amazing things like huge vats of ink, missing fingers, and 600 pound rolls of paper.

Why This Jew Loves Easter in the Castro:
1. Gay tourists
2. Ass-less bunny suits
3. The “Hunky Jesus” contest in Dolores Park
4. A guy in a bunny suit driving a Harley Davidson
5. Matzo hat
6. Peeps Bra
7. Stumbling upon the Amnesia crowd in the daylight, joining their picnic, listening to Sol heckle dogs in the park, and then catching Polkacide play a set…all before sun-down.

In honor of Easter, I bring you…
Theda Bara was Bat Mitzvahed in 1898.

"A fool there was and he made his prayer
(Even as you and I!)
To a rag and a bone and a hank of hair
(We called her the woman who did not care)
But the fool he called her his lady fair--
(Even as you and I!)”
--Rudyard Kipling


Why I hate people:
NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) -- A man was arrested on charges of killing his neighbor's 17-year-old dog by place-kicking it like a football.

Thanks, Ukiah. You really know how to brighten my day. Why don’t you go light some babies on fire or something?

Well here is some lighter fare – John Flansberg interviews Stephin Merritt. Thanks AP.

An interesting article in last week’s New Yorker about human height and it’s relation to our dietary evolution explained that people achieve their stature in three growth spurts: Infancy, the 6-8 year-old age period, and Adolescence. Any dietary screw-up during these windows of growth opportunity can really throw the whole thing off: “Iodine deficiency alone can knock off ten centimeters and fifteen I.Q. points.”
Considering I spent most of my childhood eating mac and cheese and Halloween candy, I might have fallen into this height/health gap…as this cockamamie IQ test showed! 126. Low average for a lousy “Ph. D. at 3rd-Tier School.”
Or, alternately, as someone just wrote to me:
“You did worse on the test than a half-breed who drives a filthy Ford truck, has no money, and is currently cultivating a string of aliases based on broken counterfeit watches and Turner prints. One could easily argue that you are a doofus.”
I am that doofus. Who’s joining me at a third-tier university? Anyone? Mister Peepers?

I’m hitting the inkblots next. Perhaps all of these diagnostic parlor games are invented just to keep us third-tier intellects out of the second-tier, where we know we all belong.


In my usual habit/compulsion of wanting to make the world a more absurd place, I misunderstood and then misrepresented a detail in the previous entry. In actuality, only the Fresno State wine was “blind” and therefore the wine tasting was not a true “blind tasting,” just a semi-blind tasting. I apologize to everyone for this messy reporting -- especially Paul who had to wait out the weekend for this tardy correction.

Tonight’s Seder is over at Ali and Sol’s, two gentiles who are probably questioning their involvement in this whole thing right about now. Bethanne has promised a brisket and I bought five pounds of Streits Matzo, which is probably too much for 6 people. I just got off the phone with Ukiah, with whom I had a particularly detailed discussion on the price pro’s and con’s of five pounds of Streits Matzos. Long Live Safeway. Too bad I didn’t have time to pick up a Bag O’ Plagues!

It is well known that the people of Ukiah are 100% anti-Gizmo and pro-Stripe, thus proving that it must be an evil, cold, and unfurry place to live.

hates , therefore must be pro-


So dig this:
Paul was at one of those wine tastings the other day where they cover up the names of the wines and everyone is surprised that their favorite wine was Two Buck Chuck, and then everyone has a good laugh…you know the type of gathering. But it turned out that everyone’s blind favorite was actually Fresno State wine! The crowd is aghast. It’s mutiny! Investment bakers start passing out left and right. How could a wine made by Fresno State and, more specifically, named after Fresno State (Tailgate Red? Hello!) have any cred in the wine tasting world?! So Paul (always scheming) comes up with a brilliant answer and posts it on his “Ideas Marketplace” website Premises Premises: Chateau Chien Taureau! Yes, Fresno State wine needs a spin doctor and Paul is the perfect candidate. I’m picturing a label with a bull dog in a beret, no?