Friday, May 8, 2009


Since I discovered that someone is actually reading this (see the comment for the last post--by a real guy!), I figure I should remark on what I've been doing in my absence. First of all, I went to Los Angeles to deliver a portion of this project as a paper for the Western States Folklore Society annual meeting. The reception was enthusiastic, and there was a good discussion afterwards. It prompted one scholar--the incomparable Wolfgang Meider--to give me a book, which was nice. I got some nice feedback, notably from Elliott Oring, a humor scholar of much renown. The paper, by the way, was on a joke:

A guy walks into a bar on the top of a very tall building. He sits down, orders a huge beer, chugs it, walks over to the window, and jumps out. Five minutes later, the guy walks into the bar again, orders another huge beer, chugs it, walks over to the window, and jumps out again. Five minutes later, he re-appears and repeats the whole thing. About half an hour later, another guy at the bar stops the first guy and says, "hey, how the heck are you doing that?!" The first guy responds, "Oh, it's really simple physics. When you chug the beer, it makes you all warm inside and since warm air rises, if you just hold your breath you become lighter than air and float down to the sidewalk." "WOW!" exclaims the second man, "I gotta try that!" So he orders a huge beer, chugs it, goes over to the window, jumps out, and splats on the sidewalk below. The bartender looks over to the first man and says, "Superman, you're a jerk when you're drunk."

It's the same joke I posted a link to (in video version) in the first post. I must say, it got a good laugh when I told it to the crowd of folklorists. The meeting--and my talk in particular--were well attended, which was really nice. It was a good group of people, most of whom I'd never met before.

The other reason for the lack of posts is that I've been writing the next chapter. It's called "The Apotheosis of Our Former Selves" because why wouldn't I use the most ridiculous-sounding chapter title ever? It makes me laugh to think that I may be delivering a paper with this title at the next American Folklore Socity conference. It's in Boise. I've never been to idaho before.

This next chapter is about a joke as well:

At his request, each morning 3-year-old Ray's mother pinned a bath towel to the back shoulders of his size two T-shirt. Immediately in his young imaginative mind, the towel became a magic blue and red cape. And he became Superman. Outfitted each day in his "cape," Ray's days were packed with adventure and daring escapades. He was Superman. This fact was clearly pointed out last fall when his mother enrolled him in kindergarten class. During the course of the interview, the teacher asked Ray his name. "Superman," he answered politely and without hesitation. The teacher smiled, cast an appreciative glance at his mother, and asked again, "Your real name, please." Again, Ray answered, "Superman." Realizing the situation demanded more authority, or maybe to hide amusement, the teacher closed her eyes for a moment, then in a stern voice said, "I will have to have your real name for my records." Sensing he'd have to play straight with the teacher, Ray slid his eyes around the room, hunched closer to her, and answered in a voice hushed with conspiracy, "Clark Kent."

This one has gotten a few laughs as well. I've found it, verbatim, on five different websites. in the process of studying this joke, I've come to invent a whole biography for Ray. he and I don't get along very well.

While we're on the subject of fashion: It seems as if this warrants mentioning:

The "Superman" is what we work-hard-play-hard ladies named our semi-public wardrobe change ... where we wiggle out of the boring business suit and throw on a halter or the cocktail dress that's been smashed in the bottom of a work tote all day.

I'm not sure if this is an example of a journalist inventing a term, or it's real. Either way...

Finally, because there hasn't been a picture of Obama as Superman here in a while:

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