Here's what to do to be me, though I urge you to reconsider. You'll need ---
Copies of the following books, since most of my jokes are pinched from one of these:
- Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men in a Boat (to Say Nothing of the Dog)
"When George is hanged Harris will be the worst packer in this world..."
- Joseph Heller's Something Happened, Picture This, and of course
"I wish I knew what to wish." (from Something Happened ---
used again, inadvisedly, in Closing Time.)
- Edward Gorey's Amphigorey, Amphigorey Too, and Amphigorey Also
"I keep forgetting that everything you say is connected."
- Günter Grass's The Tin Drum
"Granted: I am an inmate of a mental hospital...."
- Petr Beckmann's A History of Pi
"Before Rome became a corrupt empire, it was a corrupt republic."
- Up to a point, nearly anything by P. G. Wodehouse
From Indiscretions of Archie:
"'It was rumoured in the spring of nineteen-thirteen that Squiffy was on
the point of making a bright remark, but it never came to anything.'"
- Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep
"I was neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I didn't care who knew it."
- James Thurber's The Years with Ross
Chapter VIII: Onward and Upward and Outward
- G. H. Hardy's A Mathematician's Apology
"It is quite true that most people can do nothing well."
- John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany
"It's fascinating --- I suppose." (Chapter 8, "The Finger")
- Cyril Connolly's The Unquiet Grave
"The more books we read, the sooner we perceive that the true function of a writer
is to produce a masterpiece and that no other task is of any consequence."
- Woody Allen's books Without Feathers, Getting Even,
and Side Effects
"Should I marry W.? Not if she won't tell me the other letters in her name."
- Almost any book by Donald Knuth
"In a sense, there is no such thing as a random number; for example,
is 2 a random number?" (from Seminumerical Algorithms
(TAOCP Vol. 2))
- Richard Condon's The Manchurian Candidate
"It was not that Raymond was hard to like. He was impossible to like."
"...and with commendable seasonal cooperation it began to snow large goose feathers,
a present from the Birthday Boy himself, in lieu of peace on earth."
- Sellar and Yeatman's 1066 and All That
"When Henry IV Part I came to the throne the Barons immediately flung their gloves
on the floor in order to prove
- That Richard II was not yet dead
- That Henry had murdered him."
- Anything by Will Cuppy; from The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody:
"[Imhotep the Wise] invented the pyramid, a new kind of huge royal tomb built of
stone and guaranteed to protect the body of the Pharaoh and a large amount of his property
against disturbance for all time. That is to say, Imhotep the Wise originated the idea of
concealing the royal corpse and his treasure in a monument so conspicuous that it could not
possibly be missed by body snatchers and other thieves."
"At any rate, those of my readers who may feel that the social life of today is rather
demanding should consider that at least they don't have to get up at seven-thirty to go and see
Louis XIV put on his pants."
- John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces
"I have taken to arriving at the office one hour later than I am expected. Therefore,
I am far more rested and refreshed when I do arrive, and I avoid that bleak first hour of
the working day during which my still sluggish senses and body make every chore a penance."
- David Sedaris's Naked
"Whenever we passed the place, my sisters and I would stick our heads out the car window,
expecting to hear a hysterical voice cackling, `I'm mad, I tell you, MAD!' The patient would
embrace his lunacy as though it were a treasure he had discovered hidden beneath the
floorboards. `Mad! Do you hear me, I'm mad!'"
- The Onion's Our Dumb Century
"Reagan May Have Been Elected, Doesn't Recall"
- Kingsley Amis's Lucky Jim
"His mouth had been used as a latrine by some small creature of the night,
and then as its mausoleum."
- David Foster Wallace's A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again
"I have heard upscale adult U.S. citizens ask the Guest Relations Desk whether
snorkeling necessitates getting wet, whether the skeetshooting will be held outside,
whether the crew sleeps on board, and what time the Midnight Buffet is."
- Timothy Ferris's
Coming of Age in the Milky Way and The Whole Shebang
"A gas-meter reader would soon lose interest if he thought that the readings he recorded had nothing to do with gas consumption."
- Robert X. Cringely's Accidental Empires
"Market research firms tend to serve the same function for the PC industry
that a lamppost does for a drunk."
- Robert Park's Voodoo Science
"An attempt to extract the oxygen you need from water is called 'drowning.'"
- Evan S. Connell's The Aztec Treasure House
"...we need all the literature we can get, even if it's written under a misapprehension."
"Now, unless you have had some experience it's hard to know when a dog's head is properly cooked."
Other things that will help ---
- At age zero, be born in Southern California.
- Fritter away your formative years in Sacramento, California.
- Get a couple of degrees in mathematics.
- Move about the state of Illinois, and enjoy the weather*.
And the company.
* Not being a native to the Middle West, I find the weather here very interesting.
There are five and a half months of winter, with temperatures fluctuating wildly
between −50 and 35°F (including wind chill); followed by two weeks of pleasant
spring; followed by five and a half months of miserable summer, with temperatures
anywhere from 80 to 1,000°F (including something called heat index);
followed by two weeks of pleasant autumn. Common Illinois joke: "Spring was on a Thursday this year."
Personal record: I once walked the two miles to work when the temperature ---
taking into account wind chill --- was −58°F. I can't in good conscience
recommend it. But then again, it's always
360° out, if you look at it the right way.
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[ 2004-01-29 ]